One Giant Leap for Spider-kind

A jumping spider finds that hunting in zero-g is not a problem

Send more flies!

Conversation overheard this morning between astronaut Suni Williams, onboard the International Space Station, and NASA’s payload science center in Huntsville, Alabama:

Huntsville: We did see Nefertiti eating a fly.

Williams: Did she jump to get it? How did she get it?

Huntsville: She did jump, she’s adapting well.

Williams:  Pretty awesome!

This is exciting news, presumably, to 19-year-old Amr Mohamad of Alexandria, Egypt, whose investigation of the weightless eating habits of two jumping spiders* named Nefertiti and Cleopatra was one of three winners of the global YouTube Space Lab competition for high-school students. Mohamed’s experiment arrived on the station just a few days ago on a Japanese cargo ship, and here the spiders are already munching away on fruitflies.

Mohamed thought Nefertiti and Cleopatra, who jump on their prey rather than trap them, would find zero-g hunting to be more of a challenge.  Here’s his experiment proposal:

*Note: An earlier version of this post misidentified both spiders as zebra spiders. Nefertiti is a redback jumping spider.


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