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Space Spider Dies in D.C. After Surviving 100 Days on Space Station

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Dec 06, 2012 10:59 AM EST

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A NASA space spider died in Washington D.C. after it survived over 100 days in space. The historic arachnid was supposed to be on display a the Smithsonian museum but it died after a few days.

"It is with sadness that we announce the death of Nefertiti, the 'Spidernaut,'" the staff at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. wrote on Facebook  on Monday.

The "Johnson Jumper," called Nefertiti after Egypt's ancient queen, was the first jumping spider to survive a trip to space. The spider was sent to the International Space Station back in July as part of a science experiment that was created by 18-year-old Amr Mohamed of Alexandria, Egypt.

Nefertiti lives on the orbiting laboratory for 100 days and was able to survive the experiment. It was able to adapt to  feeding without gravity and could still catch its prey. Then it was able to readjust to gravity once it came back to Earth in October.

The spider was then taken to the Natural History Museum in November where it was set to be on display to visitors in the "Insect Zoo" starting on Nov. 29. However it died just a few days later.

"This morning [Dec. 3], before museum hours, a member of the Insect Zoo staff discovered Neffi had died of natural causes," the museum wrote Monday evening. "Neffi lived for 10 months. The lifespan of the species ... can typically reach up to one year."

The spider's trip drew national attention as the media provided updates on the spider and NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who commanded the space station would post updates on a NASA blog. The Smithsonian community is saddened by the loss of the creature. However the museum will continue to display the body of the spider in its specimen collection instead of the Insect Zoo.

"[Nefertiti] will continue to contribute to the understanding of spiders," the museum wrote.

Nefertiti joins other famous space spiders. "Arabella" and "Anita," the first spiders to spin webs in space, are also on display in the collection as they died on the United States' first space station, Skylab, in 1973. Both spiders were donated to the museum by NASA to go on display. 

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