Nefertiti, The Spidernautby Kool Cat KC on 12/06/12
Nefertiti, a “Jumping Johnson” spider rocketed into outer space and visited the International Space Station as part of an experiment. According to an article in The Washington Post by Brian Vastag, and the Smithsonian Magazine blog, the designer of the experiment wanted to see if a Jumping Johnson spider, spiders that jump from a distance and land on their prey, would be able to adapt to life in space, where they would be in a weightless state and jumping would be totally different. What was the result? Neffi adapted. While at the International Space Station, she changed the way she approached her prey. When her food, live fruit flies, was released into her enclosure, instead of jumping, Neffi stalked. She got very close to her prey and then pounced. Neffi spent 99 days and traveled 41.5 million miles in space. Then, after splashdown, she flew from Japan, to California and then to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Sadly, Neffi only lived four days at the museum. Was it because of the time she spent in space? Was she unable to adapt to life on earth again? Or was it just because it was her time? Neffi was ten months old, a ripe old age for a Jumping Johnson spider.
Can you find out how other spiders catch their prey? Do you think they could catch their prey in the same way if they were in space, in a weightless state? How do you think they could adapt if not? Find out how astronauts train to adapt to being weightless in space. What do they do while in space so their muscles don’t atrophy (become smaller) while they’re in space? I wonder if I could survive in space. How many mice do you think would stand still so I could approach them? What do you think?