A photo captures the moment the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft impacted the snow-covered ground in Kazakhstan on Thursday. Photo Credit by Bill Ingalls/NASA
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, commander of Expedition 53, returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday with the expedition's two flight engineers, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.
The trio arrived aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft, which parachuted into a snowy Kazakhstan field outside the remote town of Dzhezkazgan after descending from the ISS. The craft landed at 3:37 a.m. EST, or 2:37 p.m. Kazakhstan time.
"It is a frigid 10 degrees Fahrenheit on the ground, with the wind chill making it feel like 5 degrees below zero," NASA announced at touchdown.
During their time on the space station, the group managed hundreds of science experiments in a variety of fields, including planetary science, physics, microbiology, biotechnology and genetics. Several experiments had scientists look at microgravity's impact on human health and disease, including the effects on antibiotic resistance of E. coli. The crew also grew larger versions of a protein linked to Parkinson's disease.
The three also saw several cargo ships come and go. They helped bring fresh supplies and new science experiments on the station, while offloading completed experiments and spent supplies to be returned to Earth.
Bresnik conducted three spacewalks while aboard ISS, during which he assisted in repairs to the space station's robotic arm, Canadarm2. Ryazanskiy also participated in a spacewalk, helping his fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin release several nanosatellites.
Bresnik has now completed two stints aboard the space station, logging 150 days in space. Ryazanskiy has also executed two expeditions, but has spent 306 days in space. Nespoli has logged 313 days in space during three flights.
With Bresnik departed, Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos assumed command of Expedition 53, a three-man crew including Mark Vende Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA. Next week, they'll be joined by Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The new crew members are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, Dec. 17. NASA TV will broadcast both the launch and docking.