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Astronauts Pesquet and Novitskiy return to Earth after marathon space mission

Shamil Zhumatov, AFP | French astronaut Thomas Pesquet gestures after landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan (Zhezkazgan), Kazakhstan, on June 2, 2017.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and his Russian colleague Oleg Novitskiyi landed back on Earth Friday after a marathon 196-day trip.

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The world was a different place when Pesquet arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) on November 20 for a six-month mission.

Since then, Donald Trump has replaced Barack Obama in the White House and Emmanuel Macron, has taken over from François Hollande as president in Pesquet's native France.

Pesquet, 39, and Novitskiy, 45, quit the ISS on Friday morning for a Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, which transported them back to the steppes of Kazakhstan. US astronaut Peggy Whitson will remain on the ISS until September.

In an interview with AFP shortly before landing in Kazakhstan, Pesquet underlined the fragility of Earth from the ISS.

"There are things that one understands intellectually, but which one doesn't really get," Pesquet said via video link, gently floating around in the zero gravity of space.

“When it comes to global warming, "we talk of two degrees (Celsius) or four degrees... these are numbers which sometimes exceed human understanding."

"But to see the planet as a whole... to see it for yourself... this allows you to truly appreciate the fragility."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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