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They Sent Spiders to the ISS, But Nothing Went as Planned

Exploring Spider Behavior: NASA's Study of Spiders in Space

By Kamran KhanPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
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Spider in Space

NASA started an intriguing experiment in 2008 to try and find out how spiders build their webs in zero gravity. This project resulted in a fascinating chain of events that revealed startling new information about how arachnids behave in space.

Two spiders were sent to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first experiment; one was to be the primary participant and the other to be a backup. Nevertheless, the original strategy was abruptly altered when the backup spider broke out of its chamber and unexpectedly ran into its partner. The outcome was a tangled mass of interfering webs, made worse by the flies that were supposed to be the spiders' primary food source reproducing quickly and covering the chamber window with their larvae, making the spiders invisible.

The mystery of how spiders behaved in space remained after the setback. One of the original experiment's researchers took advantage of a second chance to investigate this phenomenon in 2011. This time, a different type of spider was chosen, and four spiders were created, two for the International Space Station and two for Earth, so that the results could be compared in different gravity settings.

But then there was a twist: two of the spiders that were first labeled as female turned out to be male. Due to this unforeseen occurrence, one male spider was transported to space and the other stayed on Earth, creating a rare chance for data collecting.

The spiders in the second experiment were remarkably active in spite of the lack of gravity, indicating that the experiment was successful. They constructed and disassembled webs to demonstrate their flexibility in an unfamiliar setting. Interestingly, the spiders showed a propensity to spin more symmetrical webs in space than they did on Earth.

The experiment's key finding was how important light was for the spiders' orientation in zero gravity. The spiders showed that environmental cues can have an impact even in space when they created asymmetrical webs resembling those found on Earth when given a light source.

The intricate details of spider silk, which is used to make webs, highlighted the arachnids' extraordinary adaptability even more. Spider silk has many characteristics that help make spider webs resilient and effective. It is lighter and thinner than cotton but just as strong. A wonder of natural engineering, spider silk is strong, elastic, and resistant to damaging substances.

The actions of spiders that have been studied on Earth and in space provide insight into their extraordinary adaptability and resourcefulness. Spiders are prime examples of the inventiveness of nature's designs, from the painstaking creation of webs to the use of novel hunting techniques.

In conclusion, even if the original experiment might not have gone as expected, further research into the behavior and skills of spiders in space produced insightful findings. These discoveries not only improve our knowledge of arachnids but also highlight the significance of researching life in a variety of habitats, both on Earth and elsewhere.

Lesson Learnt:

Environmental Sensitivity and Adaptation Lessons

Initiated in 2008, NASA's Spider experiment provided important insights about the behavior of arachnids in zero gravity. Notwithstanding early obstacles such as entangled webs and unanticipated gender identity, more study in 2011 offered an exceptional chance to expand comprehension. The study demonstrated how adaptable spiders are in space, demonstrating their capacity to build symmetrical webs and react to cues from their surroundings, such as light. Furthermore, the study illuminated the remarkable characteristics of spider silk, emphasizing its durability and efficiency. Overall, the experiment demonstrated the value of researching life in a variety of habitats and highlighted spiders as outstanding illustrations of nature's resilience and inventiveness. We continue to learn more about arachnids and the wider ramifications for life beyond them through more studies.

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  • Toby Heward2 months ago

    Very cool

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