Relive astronaut Scott Kelly's trailblazing year in space (pictures)

During a year in orbit, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took up microgravity gardening, strolled in space and captured some eye-popping photos. Here are the moments that stood out.

Eric Mack
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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1 of 22 NASA/Bill Ingalls

A long time away from home

On March 28, 2015, US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, destined for the International Space Station. It would be their home for nearly a year. During his stay, Kelly set a record for the longest continuous time an American astronaut has spent in space.

Late Tuesday, Kelly returned safely back to Earth, where his health will now be thoroughly evaluated so scientists can extract valuable data on the effects of long-term space travel on the human body.

During his time in orbit, Kelly and his crewmates took hundreds of photos from the space station. We've picked out a selection of shots that illustrate Kelly's landmark time and remarkable views aboard the ISS.

2 of 22 NASA/Scott Kelly

Auroral view

Kelly took hundreds of photos during his year in space that he shared across social media, and one of his favorite targets was the colorful auroras that the space station would sometimes cruise right above or through. This one shows the night lights of Earth below and a sunset just emerging on the horizon. Gorgeous stuff.

3 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA/Twitter

Space bedroom

Early in his trip, Kelly tweeted this photo of his bedroom on the space station, with just enough room for rest and work...and plenty of Velcro to keep everything from floating away.

4 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA

Burger time

What does grub look like without gravity? Not too bad, but perhaps not totally gourmet either. Nonetheless, Kelly and the rest of the crew took the time to enjoy space burgers when they could.

5 of 22 NASA

Fruit loops

Juggling is so much easier in microgravity. This has to count as cheating, right?

6 of 22 NASA

Space shot

Among the many scientific experiments Kelly facilitated or participated in during his time aboard the ISS, this one involved him receiving a flu shot in space at the same time his twin brother Mark received one on Earth to see how their immune systems reacted in the different environments.

7 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA/Twitter

Shiny Nile

Kelly was a big fan of taking photos of Earth from his perch. This one shows the Nile River valley at night shining like a vein of gold on a darkened planet.

8 of 22 NASA

Space selfie

Kelly captured this selfie while setting up one of his many experiments aboard the ISS.

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Kelly was able to get out of the cramped quarters of the space station a few times to take spacewalks with other crew members. This photo shows Kelly during his third spacewalk to do some maintenance tasks and prepare for the arrival of a Russian supply capsule.

10 of 22 NASA/Scott Kelly

Best selfie ever

At this point, we've all seen thousands of selfies, but I still say none have topped the space selfie. Kelly took this one during a spacewalk.

11 of 22 NASA/Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly, gardener

A year on a space station is enough to make anyone tired of vacuum-packed or dehydrated food. One of Kelly's experiments involved growing and testing lettuce in microgravity. According to Kelly, his space lettuce tastes a little bit like arugula.

12 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA

Orbital selfie

OK, so this might be almost as great a selfie as the one from Kelly's spacewalk. This one, taken from the cupola, a relatively new addition to the space station, allows for some of the great views we've become used to seeing.

13 of 22 NASA

Screening room

It wasn't all spacewalks and science for Kelly on the International Space Space station. In September, he and the crew were treated to a special showing of "The Martian," all the while knowing their work may be helping to make that particular bit of science fiction into science fact.

14 of 22 NASA

Experimenting with the future

One of Kelly's more fascinating experiments on the space station involved playing with a ball of floating water by adding dyes and an effervescent tablet. Back on Earth, one technologist told us how he saw the future in that little floating ball.

15 of 22 NASA

Turkey Day

For our North American readers, here's what a Thanksgiving meal looks like on the space station.

16 of 22 NASA

Droid battle

I could never figure out if it was his (lack of a) haircut or his stocky stature, but Kelly always kind of looked like a tough guy aboard the space station. To celebrate the release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in December, he donned some shades and took up a truly tough-guy pose with this droid.

17 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA

Scott Kelly, space florist

After successfully cultivating space lettuce, Kelly next turned his zero-g green thumb to growing some flowers, with beautiful results.

18 of 22 NASA

Augmented orbital reality

Here is Kelly's tough-guy pose again. This time, though, his shades are actually Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality system. It finally made it to the space station on the second try after the first set was destroyed when a resupply mission exploded.

19 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA

Super Sunday in space

Kelly grabbed this shot of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, about a month before his scheduled return to Earth.

20 of 22 Scott Kelly/NASA

Final space sunset

Kelly captured this final sunset from orbit before returning to Earth on March 1.

21 of 22 NASA/Bill Ingalls

Floating home

If you thought the International Space Station was cramped, how about this capsule that gently floated Kelly back to Earth?

22 of 22 NASA/Bill Ingalls

Mission accomplshed!

Back on Earth after nearly a year flying above it, Kelly gets to relax while readjusting to gravity.

To see even more of Kelly's photos from space, check out this collection of his most artistic and colorful shots of Earth from above.

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