JAXA astronaut Norishige Kanai came back to earth last month but is still dreaming of space, especially after the discovery of an underground lake on Mars brought mankind one step closer to unraveling the mystery of whether life exists on the red planet. "I was so excited about the news," the 41-year-old doctor with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said in an interview Friday, calling it "a major discovery that inspires dreams." International astronomers on Wednesday announced they had detected the largest body of liquid water ever found on Mars, a breakthrough that may hold clues to whether life has ever formed on the planet or even exists today. Kanai, who spent 168 days on the International Space Station, is firmly convinced that we're not alone in the universe and there is life out there. "I believe there is," he said.
ZHEZKAZGAN, KAZAKHSTAN – Three crew members of the International Space Station returned to Earth on Sunday after completing a 5½-month mission, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. A Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai of Japan and Scott Tingle of NASA landed in the Kazakhstan countryside around 6:40 p.m., 3½ hours after detaching from the station. The three had been on the orbital laboratory since mid-December, with Shkaplerov, 46, serving as mission commander from February until he turned over command to American Drew Feustel on Saturday. Kanai, a 41-year-old former Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor, drew international attention for claiming on Twitter to have grown 9 cm taller after three weeks at the space station due to the absence of gravity. He later said he had made a measurement mistake and it had only grown 2 cm.