Photo: The Smithsonian Museum
A jumping spider named Nefertiti spent 100 days aboard the International Space Station, travelling more than 42 million miles, before recently returning to Earth to live out the rest of her days as the star attraction in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo. Sadly, Nefertiti, dubbed “Spidernaut,” died yesterday morning, just five days after being introduced to the public on Thursday, Nov. 29.
“Neffi” was 10 months old and died of natural causes, according to the museum. Jumping spiders normally live for about one year.
Neffi’s body will remain with the museum in its collection of specimens where “she will continue to contribute to the understanding of spiders,” the museum wrote.
Neffi’s bout in space was part of an experiment to see how spiders would go about catching their prey in microgravity. Neffi did in fact successfully hunt for flies inside her space flight habitat, just as she would on Earth.
Back in August, ISS commander Suni Williams wrote a journal entry describing how Neffi feasted on fruit flies. Here’s an excerpt:
“[Nefertiti] is sort of scary; in fact I am so glad I am not a fruit fly. I opened up the habitat and actually saw her running around at full speed looking for something to eat. It was difficult to even get a steady picture. Then a fruit fly came out. Nefertiti stopped, she stalked and then she pounced. It was amazing to see this with my own two eyes. Apparently they inject some acidic fluid in the fly body, which liquefies the insides, and then she sucks everything out of the fly. The only thing left is the carcass…and I saw many carcasses floating around in her twisted web. Note her 4 eyes and the fruit fly in her mouth! I was told she has excellent vision. Again, I am so happy to not be a fly – reminded me of that futuristic movie Starship Troopers. Yikes!”
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