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Minnesota astronaut back on earth after six months in space

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After months of weightlessness, Minnesota native and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg is again facing the immutable laws of gravity.

The Vining, Minn., native returned to earth Sunday after orbiting the planet since May.

The Associated Press reported that Nyberg was quickly given dark glasses to protect her eyes against the intense sunlight after the landing in Kazakhstan. Newser had a photo of the smiling Nyberg being carried to a medical tent at the landing site for testing.

Was a chocolate bar waiting for her? From space, she had mentioned how eagerly she had awaited a package containing her favorite treat.

Nyberg and her two fellow astronauts from Italy and Russia were then flown to the city of Karaganda for a welcome ceremony. Their Soyuz capsule brought the unlit Olympic torch back to earth with them. It arrived at the ISS Thursday when three new crew members arrived. Two Russian crew members took it on a spacewalk Saturday.

The fun-loving Nyberg became a bit of an orbiting celebrity, sharing stories in multiple interviews and posting videos of her life in space, including details of performing daily chores like washing her long hair. She addressed graduates from her alma mater at the University of North Dakota commencement in August.

The Grand Forks Herald had the story of Nyberg's final comments from space. On Friday, she spoke from orbit with reporters on the ground.

“More than anything I am looking forward to seeing my husband and my son,” she said.

Beside NASA experiments and daily space station work, Nyberg was active on Twitter, where her 90,000 followers enjoyed her photos of earth on the social network website.

She posted a dramatic image over the weekend of the storm that ravaged the Philippines:

Pinterest fans watched Nyberg's homemade craft projects that she cut and sewed in space, including a dinosaur for her son, made with Velcro-like fabric that lines Russian food containers on the station.

Nyberg, a mechanical engineer, graduated from UND in 1994, and went on to join NASA. She also took part in a 2008 mission on the space shuttle Discovery. Her parents still live in Vining, about 160 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.

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