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back to article Pioneering spidernaut snuffs it after short Smithsonian stay

America's first spacefaring jumping spider has died, three days after being delivered for display in her new home at the Smithsonian Museum’s Insect Zoo. The arachnid, a red-backed jumping spider (Phidippus johnsoni) nicknamed Neffi after the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, spent over 100 days in orbit on the International Space …

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Unhappy

It seems to be a bad week

for re-entries.

Cleo DOA

Neffie dies after 4 days

Playmonaut MIA

Sad times.

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Facepalm

Damnit!!!

Now we will never know if spiders can be made to sort tiny screws in space!!

(With apologies to a certain animated TV comedy)

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WTF?

This year's Xmas pressie for Smithsonian: a sense of perspective

"The loss of this special animal that inspired so many imaginations will be felt throughout the museum community"

For sure an interesting experiment, but really? Throughout the community? Are we to imagine the Generaldirektor of the Museum für Naturkunde sitting disconsolately at his desk with the email still open, coffee growing cold, moustachios slowly wilting? It's one common spider that was a subject of a relatively minor experiment and was going to die soon anyway (unless the mourning is really for it's not coming back stimulated by cosmic rays into an unstoppable city-ravaging monster?)

And not kidding about those moustachios:

http://www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de/index.php

Britain needs to look to its boffinry laurels pronto - once that man levels up with the polka-dot bow tie section of C&A he'll be the unstoppable monster.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This year's Xmas pressie for Smithsonian: a sense of perspective

I think "will be felt throughout the museum community" is more the community of that one museum, not the worldwide community of all museum workers everywhere.

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Thumb Up

Re: This year's Xmas pressie for Smithsonian: a sense of perspective

"...sitting disconsolately at his desk with the email still open, coffee growing cold, moustachios slowly wilting?"

Dude, that's fantastic. You need to post more. Hell, you need a column. That's some fine wordsmithing there, friend.

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Unhappy

Re: This year's Xmas pressie for Smithsonian: a sense of perspective

I got a thumbs-down for complimenting someone? That seems uncalled-for. Perhaps my saccharine praise was misconstrued as sarcasm; if so... well, it wasn't. Anyway. You know, my wife says she'll grow a mustache if I divorce her - wait, no, it's something else. She says she'll divorce me if I grow a mustache. That's got to be it.

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Anonymous Coward

She saw something...

...she shouldn't have and wasn't going to keep quiet about it

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Predictable, really...

After all that time in orbit, she was probably expecting zero-G when she jumped. Instead, gravity took over and she fell and broke her little tiny neck!

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Coat

They'd put her on the web site...

...but it's configured to reject spiders.

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Coat

Peter Parker

I wonder if she bit anyone before her untimely demise?

Mine's the one with the web spinners up the sleeves.

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Boffin

I'm not sure that I see the point of this experiment...

As animals get smaller, they are working at a lower Reynolds Number. At very small sizes, inertia starts to become meaningless, and your movements are dominated by things like air viscosity. So a small animal won't notice gravity to anything like the extent that we do - it's unsurprising that there was no great change in its feeding behaviour...

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WTF?

Re: I'm not sure that I see the point of this experiment...

For something that hunts by jumping I'd have thought that the whole "not coming down again" bit would be rather noticable.

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Devil

Re: I'm not sure that I see the point of this experiment...

This experiment confirms that spiders are nasties that are not to be messed with.

Human in space: motion sickness, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning

Spider in space: not one f*ck given

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Re: I'm not sure that I see the point of this experiment...

Well, I'm guessing they didn't ask it if it felt like barfing, or put it on a tiny treadmill when they got back - and while I'm not an orni.. ichthini... inse... carniv... not a spider expert, I'm pretty sure that cardiovascular deconditioning isn't an issue.

Anyway, can spiders even barf?

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I wonder if they kept track of the food intake of the two spiders and could determine if the longer lived one was able to gather more food.

On a related note, it looks from the video like the flies didn't cope quite as well as the spider did and to me that is actually more interesting. The butterfly in space video shows the butterfly very awkward but it really doesn't have the room to figure it out before crashing into something. Pity they don't have the room available for something to try a proper flight. Perhaps they could focus on the little flies next time and run a few generations to see if the flies can 'evolve' enough to get it right. I would think in space it would only take a wing beat or two for propulsion and then it's just directional control.

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Flies in Spaaace!

It's harder than that for flies, as their entire physiology is based on wing beats, pumping both the air and 'blood' through their bodies.

So I think that not being able to flap wings without large effects will make them a bit short of breath.

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Preserve it in aspic.

Preserve the body in aspic. Or maybe even amber, for extra Jurassic Park kudos.

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Linux

Re: Preserve it in aspic.

Sadly, they will just stick a big pin in her and be done with it.

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Re: Preserve it in aspic.

"Sadly, they will just stick a big pin in her and be done with it."

They totally should have done that with Lenin.

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Headmaster

Spelling

"slipped the surly bounds of Earth"

Should be "slipped the surly bonds of Earth"

From High Flight by

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee

No 412 squadron, RCAF

Killed 11 December 1941

A fine poem that was quoted by Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster.

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Headmaster

The flying flies were funny to watch.

We of course in Australia, had squillions of the little sticky black bastards - covered in them.

Every time we got a hot northerly wind, it blew billions of them southwards into the city.

One lunch time in Australia, I sat in the playground and killed about 72 of them.... in half an hour.

Then the CSIRO had to introduce dung beetles from Egypt, that could handle the billions of tons of wet aussie cowshit that the flies bred in... and sort of rooned my plan to spend the rest of my life angrily squishing hundreds of millions of sticky black bush flies.....

So seeing the fruit flies buzzing around in microgravity - it's a funny thing.

Pity there was no vid of the spider making a cross cage jump onto one.

That would have been good to see.

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Re: The flying flies were funny to watch.

"Every time we got a hot northerly wind, it blew billions of them southwards into the city."

Where's a fire tornado when you need one, eh?

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The thing that is naut

Let's face it, the US astronauts didn't navigate too far among the stars, any more than the Soviet cosmonauts did among the cosmos. But shouldn't a spidernaut be one, irrespective of number of legs, that is sailing among seas of spiders?

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Gimp

Re: The thing that is naut

So are the crabs on the astronauts' nads. Heroes, godspeed every little scrabbly bitey one of them (would say more on this stirring theme but have lump in throat)

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The first spiders in space were Anita and Arabella on Skylab in the 70s. Today they (at least, Arabella) are also a Smithsonian artifact:

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryinthenews/a/spiders-in-space-skylab.htm

http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?id=A19740484001

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'The idea came from 18-year-old Amr Mohamed from Egypt as part of NASA's YouTube Space Lab program.'

Really? In which case I want to see how kittens manage to chase bits of string in microgravity. Make it happen, NASA!

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