'Spidernaut' has new home in D.C. museum

Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:30 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A spider drawing a lot of attention at a Washington museum is no ordinary arachnid, officials say; it's a "Spidernaut" recently returned from 100 days in space.

A jumping spider named Nefertiti got a ticket to the International Space Station in a student competition for novel science experiments, the Los Angeles Times reported.

One of the winners from the 2,000 entries in the competition for students ages 14-18 was Amr Mohamed, 18, of Alexandria, Egypt, who suggested an experiment to see how spiders would hunt prey in microgravity.

On the space station, Nefertiti proved very capable of catching her prey of fruit flies.

Nefertiti went on public display Thursday at the Insect Zoo in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington where she will spend the rest of her life, estimated by Smithsonian scientists to be about six months.

Museum Director Kirk Johnson went to BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado to retrieve Nefertiti for the trip to Washington.

How did she travel?

"Tupperware container nestled in my rolling bag," Johnson said. "There were tasty fruit flies, crickets and water in the container so she could snack along the way."

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