Three crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) have returned to Earth as they completed their 197-day mission.
The Soyuz capsule carrying German crew commander Alexander Gerst, U.S. astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor, and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev landed early on December 20 on the Kazakh steppe, 140 kilometers southeast of Zhezqazghan.
Prokopyev commanded the Soyuz capsule on its return to Earth.
The three crewmembers spent 197 days aboard the ISS, performing experiments that can only be conducted in space.
Gerst handed control as the ISS commander over to Russian Oleg Kononenko earlier in the week.
On December 11, Kononenko and Prokopyev conducted a spacewalk and took samples of the exterior of the ISS as part of efforts to resolve the mystery of a small hole found in a craft docked at station.
Kononenko, Anne McClain of the United States, and David Saint-Jacques of Canada arrived at the ISS in early December for their six-month mission.