Reuters reports that Nefertiti, the first spider to fly in space in a recent NASA experiment, died at the Smithsonian museum on Monday. The arachnid was supposed to be displayed at the museum in a special NASA exhibition, but he was found dead a few days later.
18-year old Amr Mohamed from Alexandria, Egypt suggested NASA to perform the spider experiment during a recent You Tube Space Lab contest. His idea was taken into consideration and Nefertiti, the “Johnson Jumper” (“Phidippus johnsoni”) spider was flown into space in July. Researchers wanted to study the spider’s capacity to adapt to weightlessness, as well as its ability to readjust to gravity.
After 100 days in space, Nefertiti proved scientists that his species is perfectly capable of adapting its feeding behavior to other living conditions besides the ones on Earth. Since Nefertiti has had such as great contribution to the scientific community, the administration at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. wanted to honor him by organizing a special exhibition in its name.
The staff at the museum wrote on Monday that the arachnid was found lifeless in the “Insect Zoo” department where different species are usually displayed. According to their statement, Neffi died of natural causes, so the space trip he recently accomplished didn’t have any negative effects on his health. As a matter of fact, the lifespan of this species rarely reaches up to one year, but Neffi managed to live ten months.
Nefertiti may not have lived long, but he sure enjoyed life to its fullest. The arachnid drew the entire media’s attention when NASA announced their experiment. The NASA astronaut who commanded the space station while Nefertiti was onboard, Sunita Williams, kept fans up to date with the arachnids evolution by writing blog posts each day.
The museum will continue to keep Nefertiti even though he passed away. They will include it in their specimen collection.