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Nefertiti Dead: First Spider To Return To Earth From Space Dies

12/03/2012 05:21 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2012
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Nefertiti The Spider Astronaut

The Smithsonian released the unhappy news on Monday:

It is with sadness that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History announces the death of Nefertiti, the “Spidernaut.” “Neffi” was introduced to the public Thursday, Nov. 29, after traveling in space on a 100-day, 42-million-mile expedition en route to and aboard the International Space Station. She was there to take part in a student-initiated experiment on microgravity.

This morning, before museum hours, a member of the Insect Zoo staff discovered Neffi had died of natural causes. Neffi lived for 10 months. The lifespan of the species, Phidippus johnsoni, can typically reach up to 1 year.

The loss of this special animal that inspired so many imaginations will be felt throughout the museum community. The body of Neffi will be added to the museum’s collection of specimens where she will continue to contribute to the understanding of spiders.

Nefertiti circled the Earth about 1,584 times and traveled some 41,580,000 miles during her journeys. She was not the first spider to go into space. But she was the first to return home, if briefly.

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