NASA welcomed a pair of ‘spidernauts’ into space aboard its penultimate shuttle mission in May.
How differently will spiders behave in space? This interesting investigation is part of a K-12 curriculum and students will be able to answer to such a question, when school is back in session.
Two golden orb spiders, named Gladys and Esmerelda, became the third spidernauts to fly to space since 1973, when NASA flew two orb weaver spiders. The second time NASA sent spiders into space was in 2008.
When the orb spiders spin web on Earth, they spin circular webs that are lopped off at the top. However, when they spin in space, the web becomes completely circular because the spiders, which use gravity on Earth to orient themselves, get confused in zero-gravity.
Golden orb spiders generally use gravity to spin the long lines of sticky threads, which originate from the center of the web and to occasionally drop down to the ground.
However, in zero gravity, the spiders get confused and become unsure of which way to face or drop. And, Esmarelda, is no exception. The confused spider, after building the web, simply continues to float in the air instead of dropping.
The video below, released by BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, shows how Esmerelda behaves in space.
Check out the video to see how she spins, hunts, and captures fruit flies aboard the International Space Station: