NASA’s space mission spider has died in D.C. just days after going on display at the Smithsonian. The arachnid, a jumping spider, was the first eight-legged creature to survive a trip to space and back.
The spider, named Nefertiti after the wife of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, was a “Johnson Jumper,” which survived being launched to the International Space Station in July, reports Fox News.
The space spider that died in D.C. was the subject of a student-initiated science experiment to see how its species could survive in space. The project was submitted by 18-year-old Amr Mohamed from Alexandria, Egypt.
The spider lived aboard the space laboratory for 100 days and showed the ability to adapt its feeding behavior to take into account the effects of weightlessness. The “spider-naut” was then able to successfully re-adjust to gravity and return to Earth.
Space.com notes that, with its mission to space over, the spider was put up on display at the Natural History Museum in the “Insect Zoo” exhibit gallery, joining other live arachnids and insects. The museum released a statement on Nefertiti’s death Monday evening, saying:
“This morning [Dec. 3], 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 … can typically reach up to one year.”
The space spider who died in D.C. will join other arachnids who have gone to space but returned posthumously. Nefertiti’s body will be added to the museum’s specimen collection. The museum stated, “[Nefertiti] will continue to contribute to the understanding of spiders.”
Are you sad to hear that Nefertiti, the space spider, has died in D.C. just days after going on display at the Smithsonian?