WASHINGTON – The first spider astronaut to make it from space back to Earth has a new home in the nation’s capital.
NBC’s Cosmic Log has the details of the the long-haul arthropod’s journey: “The spider who became the star of an Egyptian teenager’s outer-space experiment has settled into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History after returning from a three-month stint aboard the International Space Station.”
The jumping spider, called Nefertiti, circled the Earth about 1,584 times and traveled some 41,580,000 miles during her journeys — which are not the first space travels for spiders, though they are the first to end with the spider seeing home again.
Nefertiti was sent all this way as part of an experiment proposed by 18-year-old Amr Mohamed from Alexandria.
Mohamed wanted to know if jumping spiders could still catch prey in a microgravity environment. Lucky for Nefertiti, it turns out they can, according to a Smithsonian media release: “Despite the changes in Nefertiti’s environment, the result of the experiment was that she was indeed able to adjust her feeding behavior to account for the effects of microgravity and still catch her prey.”
For the rest of her life, Nefertiti will be on view at the Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo. But don’t wait too long to go see her — the Smithsonian says her lifespan is only about six months.