LOS ANGELES, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A SpaceX Dragon cargo vessel returned safely to Earth on Friday, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, just southwest of Baja California. NASA announced its safe return in a news release Friday morning.
Inside the spacecraft's cargo chamber are several important scientific test results, highly anticipated by NASA researchers.
According to NASA, the newly returned spacecraft was successfully retrieved not long after landing in the ocean. After some of its more precious cargo is unloaded at a port in Los Angeles, the craft will be delivered to McGregor, Texas, for processing by SpaceX engineers.
Scientists with the U.S. National Laboratory are excited to receive their heart cell samples, sent to live on the International Space Station earlier this year. The cells will help researchers better understand how microgravity affects the human heart.
Also returning are the end results of two rodent studies. The Mouse Epigenetics study is aimed at understanding the effects of life in space on gene expression, while the Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly experiment is focused on the loss of muscle and bone mass in the legs and spine.
Petri dishes full of microbes also made the trek back to Earth. Scientists working on the Multi-Omics experiment are trying to measure the influence of microgravity on the human gut microbiome.
The majority of scientific experiments happening on ISS are concerned with the affects of long-distance space travel on human health.
Until this week, this particular Dragon craft had spent the last month docked on the International Space Station. It delivered 5,000 pounds of supplies and research equipment as part of a mid-July resupply mission.