Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Arthropod in the Spotlight (IN SPACE!)

Female Phidippus johnsoni  (Wikipedia)
The first jumping spider to survive a 100 day stay on the International Space Station died on December 3rd at the Smithsonian. The species chosen to make the trip was Phidippus johnsoni (The red-backed jumping spider), which is a species commonly found in Western North America. The spider was launched into space as part of a student experiment to study its adaptability to the weightlessness of space. The spider was able to account for the effects of zero-gravity and catch it's prey. Upon it's return to earth in October it was able to readjust to gravity. The spider lived 10 months, which was the normal lifespan. Two other spiders have been to space, where they became the first spiders to spin webs in space in 1973 on Skylab, the United State's first space station.