In Pictures

Astronaut Capt Scott Kelly's year in space

The longest-serving American astronaut in space is returning to Earth after living on board the International Space Station for 340 days.

While there, Capt Scott Kelly shared fantastic images of our planet via Twitter and Instagram, as well as videos documenting everyday life in space.

The Nile at Night Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA
Image caption "22 September 2015 - Day 179. The Nile at night is a beautiful sight for these sore eyes."

Capt Kelly's mission will help Nasa understand the long-term effects of living in space. His identical twin, Mark, stayed grounded during the year, and Nasa is conducting research on both men to see how a year of weightlessness affects the human body.

"Christmas in July! Great gift for my 100th day in space! Only 250 more to go - not that I'm counting" Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA
Image caption "Christmas in July! Great gift for my 100th day in space! Only 250 more to go - not that I'm counting."

The research is critical, as it will take a year of space travel to reach Mars.

More #Africa #EarthArt hues. Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA
Image caption "More #Africa #EarthArt hues"

In October, Capt Kelly was one of two astronauts on board the International Space Station to make their first spacewalk outside - to do some repairs and maintenance.

Capt Kelly and Dr Kjell Lindgren had to grease the station's big robot arm, reroute some cables and remove some insulation.

The spacewalk had to be delayed after Dr Lindgren switched on the water flow in his suit too soon.

#SpaceWalkSelfie Back on the grid! Great first spacewalk yesterday. Now on to the next one next week. Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA
Image caption "#SpaceWalkSelfie Back on the grid! Great first spacewalk yesterday. Now on to the next one next week."

Travelling more than 220 miles above the Earth, at 17,500mph, Capt Kelly orbited the globe more than a dozen times a day.

This image shows the view over Africa.

JAN 12 - #EarthArt Out of #Africa. #GoodMorning people of Earth from @space_station Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

During his stay on station, he had the opportunity to photograph various geographical locations, including the Bahamas, pictured here.

JAN 19 - #EarthArt The depths of #Bahamas blues. #YearInSpace Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

"Pictures like this make me really regret that my watercolours didn't make it up here," Capt Kelly wrote on 22 November 2015.

Pictures like this make me really regret that my watercolours didn't make it up here. #EarthArt #YearInSpace Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

On 29 September, Capt Kelly had an Antipodean view.

He wrote: "My favourite colour is blue. But it's green I miss most. #New Zealand, you were everything I expected."

New Zealand from ISS Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

Some images proved puzzling to some of Capt Kelly's followers.

On 11 February, this shot raised some questions.

He wrote: "Posted this pic last week. Many of you asked, 'What is it?'"

Capt Kelly revealed all on Tumbler.

He wrote: "Photo located on the western edge of the Sahara desert at centre Mauritania in north-west Africa. There is a giant quartzite circle called Richat Structure. It is approximately 24 miles across. This volcanic bulge that never erupted and was levelled by erosion makes for interesting Earth art."

Western Sahara from ISS Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

On 27 August, Capt Kelly captured one of many amazing shots of the aurora borealis.

Day 153. Early to bed before our road trip. #Aurora and the #moon. Good night from @space_station! Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

He also marked Halloween with another shot of the spectacular light show.

#Aurora's sinister face, & other spooky scenes from @space_station on my #YearInSpace coming at you #HappyHalloween Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

On 27 February and near the end of his time on the space station, Capt Kelly wrote; "Of all the sunrises I've seen on my year in space, this was one of the best! One of the last too. Headed home soon."

Sunset from ISS Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

Unsurprisingly, Capt Kelly's final post before returning was a picture of Earth; "#Countdown We're down to a wake-up. #Earth. I'm coming for you tomorrow! #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace."

Earth Image copyright @stationcdrkelly / NASA

All photos: @stationcdrkelly / Nasa