NASA Infographic Reveals Effects of a Year in Space

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Astronauts Kjell Lindgren (L) and Scott Kelly sample lettuce harvested for the first time aboard the International Space Station in this handout photo provided by NASA during Expedition 44, August 10. NASA/Reuters

NASA has released an infographic detailing what will happen to astronaut Scott Kelly's body while he spends a record 12 months in space.

The space agency released the graphic this week to celebrate the fact that Kelly, along with Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko, reached the halfway point of their mission, which will see the two men spend a total of 342 days on the International Space Station. The goal of the mission is to explore the effects on a human body of spending an extended time in space.

As part of the "Year in Space" program, samples are being drawn from Kelly's twin brother, retired astronaut Mike Kelly, who stayed behind on Earth, alongside samples periodically gathered from Scott. One of the long-term aims of the experiment is to determine if humans would be able to travel to Mars, which would take approximately 260 days when Earth is at its closest approach to the Red Planet. The round trip would take around two-and-a-half years because of the need to wait for the right orbital window for the return journey.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on the space agency to step up its efforts to reach Earth's neighbor. "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth," Obama said during a 2010 speech at the Kennedy Space Center. "And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it."

Among some of the more notable effects and events that Kelly will experience during his year in space include seeing almost 11,000 sunrises and sunsets, compared to the 684 we'll see on Earth, and that as his discarded feces enter the atmosphere they'll burn up and look like shooting stars.

Year in Space infographic
NASA