Aboard the International Space Station, the floating laboratory that orbits our planet, are a number of international astronauts and cosmonauts. Their job there is to conduct experiments and learn more about the physics of outer space and how microgravity affects certain things.
These experiments have to get back to Earth somehow so that more room can be made for more experiments to be sent there. It just so happens that they ship them right back to Earth for data the be observed.
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft landed successfully in the Pacific Ocean last Wednesday, about 261 miles away from the shores of California, with a handful of said experiments on board. NASA says that about 3,700 pounds of experiments and cargo were shipped back to Earth.
Floating out at sea, the Dragon spacecraft is collected by a boat and tugged back to shore where it is then returned to NASA within just two days.
Much of the experimentation that will be found inside of the capsule are those from year-in-space former-NASA star Scott Kelly, who during his year in space, conducted many experiments on board the International Space Station.
Although he’s no longer on board the International Space Station, and had recently retired from NASA, he continues to be a walking science experiment for the space agency because he and his brother had volunteered to see how space impacts the human body over time in case the data would be useful for long-term space travel to other planets.
Now that those experiments are now relics and things of the past, Expedition 47 can begin and resume new and current experiments aboard the International Space Station without as much clutter. It could be considered Spring cleaning for the International Space Station.
Source: NASA (1), (2)