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article imageNefertiti, the first 'space spider' to survive flight, dies

By Leigh Goessl     Dec 6, 2012 in Science
Washington - The Smithsonian Natural History Museum announced the death of the world's first "spidernaut". "Neffi", a jumping spider, had been the first spider to travel in space and survive the trip.
Nefertiti was the world's first "space spider". Recently, she had returned from a 100-day flight in space, having traveled 42-million miles as part of a student science experiment that was studying microgravity. After returning from the trip, the spider, affectionately nicknamed "Neffi", was brought to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, she died just days after arriving at the museum.
The "spidernaut" had gone on exhibit on Nov. 29 in the museum's "Insect Zoo" area.
On Monday, Dec. 3, the museum announced in a Facebook post that sadly, Neffi had died.
"It is with sadness that we announce the death of Nefertiti, the “Spidernaut," the museum wrote on Facebook. "This morning, before museum hours, a member of the Insect Zoo staff discovered Neffi had died of natural causes. Neffi lived for 10 months. The lifespan of the species, Phidippus johnsoni, can typically reach up to 1 year."
According to Space.com, Neffi had been launched in July as part of an science experiment idea [VIDEO] created by 18-year old Amr Mohamed from Alexandria, Egypt as part of the YouTube Space Lab. Media reports say this proposed project was selected by a panel of prestigious scientists, including Stephen Hawking.
The arachnid had been named after the ancient Egyptian queen.
While in space Nefertiti demonstrated she was able to adjust in space and, despite the effects of gravity, she was able to still catch prey, "snagging fruit flies", reported the Washington Post. Upon her return, it took a little time, but she once again readjusted to life on Earth.
"The loss of this special animal that inspired so many imaginations will be felt throughout the museum community," the Smithsonian Museum said. "The body of Neffi will be added to the museum’s collection of specimens where she will continue to contribute to the understanding of spiders."
Previously, spiders had been sent into space, but none had ever survived the trip. This includes Neffi's traveling partner, Cleopatra. Cleopatra had died on the trip home.
More about space spider, spidernaut, Smithsonian, Smithsonian museum, Natural history museum
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