The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

December 5, 2012

Spider adapted to life on space station

WASHINGTON — After a space voyage of almost 42 million miles, Nefertiti the "Jumping Johnson" spider landed at the Smithsonian's Insect Zoo at the National Museum of Natural History last week. Unfortunately, whether it was her long flight or the short natural life span of a spider, "Neffi" was found lifeless Monday morning, after only four days on public view.

"Yes, it's unfortunate. She seemed well-adjusted to earth and was in good spirits. But 10 months is a good run for a little jumping spider," said museum spokesman Randall Kremer,

The thumbnail-size brown spidernaut was sent to the international space station as a student project in June and later splashed down in the Pacific aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

During her 100-day mission, the spider adapted to weightlessness and learned to snag fruit flies with an unorthodox method. Instead of leaping onto her quarry, as jumping spiders do on Earth, Neffi "sidled up to the fruit flies," said Dan Babbit, manager of the O. Orkin Insect Zoo.

Amr Mohamed, an 18-year-old from Alexandria, Egypt, proposed sending two jumping spiders to space for a YouTube-sponsored contest. His experiment was one of two chosen by a panel of all-star scientists, including astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

In Mohamed's video proposal, he said he thought that jumping spiders would founder in space. "I suggest it will jump toward prey but not get it," he said. On Earth, jumping spiders capture prey with a gravity-limited leap. In the microgravity of orbit, such a trajectory would send the spiders soaring past their dinner.

Once aboard the station in a shoebox-size habitat, Nefertiti awaited a meal. NASA astronaut and station commander Sunita Williams released fruit flies into the spider chamber.

"My gosh, I saw her stalking a fruit fly," Williams said during a September broadcast from 200 miles above the Earth. "She was going real close. All of a sudden, she jumped right on her. It was amazing. I think the spider has absolutely adapted to space."

Text Only
Top News
  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (with VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton Community School District 2013-2014 Wages

    Clinton Community School District 2013-2014 Wages

    July 24, 2014

  • techel.jpg Iowa man convicted of killing pregnant wife

    A jury convicted an Iowa man Thursday of killing his pregnant wife in 2012, rejecting his claims of innocence after the third trial in the case.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • RAGBRAI rider from Sioux City dies in Mason City

    A RAGBRAI participant from Sioux City has been found dead in his tent in Mason City in the second death during the weeklong bicycling event.

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deliberations resume at Iowa man's murder trial

    Jurors will be allowed to review the video, but not the transcript, of an Iowa man being interrogated as they consider whether he's guilty of murder in the death of his pregnant wife.

    July 24, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

    The company reported this week that sales of its sleek, pricey tablet were down 19 percent from last quarter and 9 percent year-over-year.

    CEO Tim Cook tried to reassure investors that Apple's new partnership with IBM to sell its devices to IBM's corporate customers will help make iPads ubiquitous in the workplace.

    July 24, 2014

  • Health insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8M in refunds

    The federal government says insurers owe Iowans nearly $1.8 million in refunds because of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.

    July 24, 2014

AP Video