In the last few days there has been space news involving the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus, as well as the international space station (ISS). The news from Uranus involved auroras, while the ISS had some crew return to Earth and also got a new commander.

Hubble and Uranus

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have released amazing images of Uranus's auroras. By using photos taken by Voyager 2 back in 1986 and using observations that the Hubble Space Telescope has taken since 2011, scientists were able to create a composite picture of the planet.

Auroras are streams of charged particles and scientists have discovered evidence that they rotate around Uranus.

ISS crew return

After spending a total of 173 days in space Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov, as well as NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough returned home yesterday. All three men also arrived together at the International Space Station back in October. They made their touchdown in a Russian Soyuz space capsule, landing in Kazakhstan. Despite the Soyuz being pulled by its main parachute onto its side, the touchdown went well and all the crew are in good shape from their journey home. The trip from the ISS back to Earth took around 4 hours. For Kimbrough and Borisenko this marked the end of their second space missions, while Ryzhikov completed his first mission.

Peggy Whitson is in command

The day before Shane Kimbrough left the International Space Station he transferred over command of the ISS to NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

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This made Whitson the first woman to have commanded the ISS twice, since she previous became the first female commander ever back in 2008. On April 24, Whitson will make even more history. On that day she will have been in space for 535 days, which will surpass the current American record that is held by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams.

Whitson also already has the record for most spacewalks and time performing spacewalks for a female astronaut.

Remaining on the ISS with Whitson is Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French spationaut Thomas Pesquet. However, they will be joined on April 20th by NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin. The latest improvement the crew has been working on is preparing to add a second international docking adaptor, so that in the future commercial vehicles will be able to dock with the ISS. Before departing for Earth, Kimbrough performed spacewalks with Whitson and Pesquet to help prepare the ISS for this.