By Shannon Steinkamp
Astronaut Scott Kelly experienced a change in his DNA, according to information released by NASA in March. However, the astronaut gained more than this 7% difference in his DNA, the year he spent in space changed him on an emotional level.
The 340 day trip to the International Space Station was Kelly’s last, and he retired when he returned home in April 2016. This mission was special, not only because it was his fourth and longest mission, but also because he shared the experience with the public by the use of the internet and social media. He shared extraordinary photos from his point of view and gave many the opportunity to see the Earth in its entirety.
"I think it makes you a more empathetic person," says Kelly when speaking of the power of traveling to space.
"More in touch with humanity and who we are, and what we should do to not only to take care of the planet but also to solve our common problems, which clearly are many."
"And then you realize looking at the Earth, that despite its beauty and its tranquility, there's a lot of hardship and conflict that goes on. You look at the planet without borders, especially during the day. At night you can see countries with lights, but during the daytime it looks like we are all part of one spaceship, Spaceship Earth.”
"And we're all flying through space together, as a team, and it gives you this perspective — people have described it as this 'orbital perspective' — on humanity, and you get this feeling that we just need to work better — much, much better — to solve our common problems."
Even though he retired from missions, Kelly desires to return to space at some point in his life. He hopes that members of the public will have the ability to experience what he has. He believes it will change others like it changed him.
"I think it's a privilege to do it, and I think it changes people for the better, having that experience," he said.