- (Photo: NASA)
A so-called space spider has died in Washington D.C. According to reports the famous spider named "Nefertiti" has died at the Smithsonian Museum on Monday, Dec. 3.
The spider was sent into space earlier this year, orbiting the cosmos for 100 days.
The spider successfully survived the entire journey and time in space, and when it returned to Earth was placed in the Smithsonian "InsectZoo" exhibit, where it lived out its final days.
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History wrote on its official Facebook page this week: "It is with sadness that we announce the death of Nefertiti, the 'Spidernaut.' This morning [Dec. 3], before museum hours, a member of the Insect Zoo staff discovered Neffi had died of natural causes. Neffi lived for 10 months. The lifespan of the species ... can typically reach up to one year."
Nefertiti in fact only managed to live a few days in the Insect Zoo exhibit before dying this week.
The death was unexpected but was not a major surprise, according to those in the know. As the Facebook announcement explained, the spider's average life span was only expected to be about 12 months, and Nefertiti was already 10 months old. It is not thought that the space travel had any detrimental affect on the spider's health and was not the reason for its death.
Nefertiti lived through the 100 day-orbit in space on the "Johnson Jumper" ("Phidippus johnsoni"), which launched into space in July and safely landed back on Earth in October.
Thanks to the spider researchers were able to learn that spiders (like Nefertiti) can adapt to the weightless conditions of space while still managing to catch and eat their prey.
The Spidernaut survived on a diet consisting of fruit flies during the International Space Station experiment.
Nefertiti will be remembered as the first "Spidernaut" to make it back to Earth alive. Other arachnoids have traveled into space in the past, but all died during the strenuous journey.
The museum has confirmed that it will add Nefertiti's remains to its specimen collection.