She Hopped Her Last Space Hop: It’s a sad day. Nefertiti, the first jumping spider to survive a trip into space, has died at an exhibit in her Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History retirement home.
“It is with sadness that we announce the death of Nefertiti, the ‘Spidernaut,’” Smithsonian staff announced today. Foul play isn’t suspected.
The tenacious “Johnson Jumper” (Phidippus johnsoni) was launched to the space station in July and survived for 100 days. She was something of a celebrity, becoming the subject of NASA astronaut Sunita Williams’ blog and, after returning to Earth, engaging Smithsonian visitors. Williams was space station commander during Nefertiti’s stay aboard the orbiting outpost.
Nefertiti, and her space partner Cleopatra (who, sadly, didn’t survive the trip back to Earth), returned from orbit aboard the shiny new SpaceX Dragon capsule in October. The pair were a part of a student-submitted study into how the jumping spiders’ hunting ability changes in microgravity. Apparently, the lack of gravity didn’t stop the pair from stalking their fruit fly prey in orbit. via Smithsonian Magazine