Spiders in Space: The International Space Station is Part of an Outstanding Experiment

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Spiders aboard the International Space Station may sound like a funny scenario, but the fascinating creatures are actually part of a real scientific experiment. Scientists in charge of the ISS decided that it’s a good idea to bring the arachnids onboard of the most famous spacecraft that revolves around the Earth. The purpose is to observe how the spiders spin their webs under microgravity.

The outstanding conclusion was that in the absence of gravity, the little creatures are capable of orienting their asymmetric webs around a light source.

NASA tried it in 2008

NASA scientists tried to understand how spiders behave in space even since twelve years ago, but the outcome wasn’t so satisfying. The results weren’s published at that time.

Scientists conclude now that the spiders’ web becomes even more symmetrical in the absence of gravity to guide the designs. The tiny creatures will typically put the main node of their webs on the top so that they can pounce downward toward any trapped prey.

Samuel Zschokke, who is a co-author of the study from the University of Base, declared:

That spiders have a back-up system for orientation like this seems surprising, since they have never been exposed to an environment without gravity in the course of their evolution.

Zschokke also says that a spider could become confused while it is creating its web. The organ responsible for the sense of position registers the relative position of the front portion of the body to the back. The two body parts are always in motion while the spiders are building the web, and an additional orientation aid based on light is useful.

The new research was published in the journal The Science of Nature.