Because we’re always curious about space, we Earthlings sent everything from slime to robots to Baby Yoda to the International Space Station (ISS). People have also sent spiders to the ISS multiple times, although that sounds like the plot of a B-movie. Now a new study says, spiders in space (!!!) have learned how to build normal paths in microgravity without any problems. But only if the astronauts leave the lights on.
The independent reported on the study that was recently published in the journal Science of nature. It is based on studies on two pairs of male and female spiders made of golden silk ball, one of which was sent to the ISS in 2011. It wasn’t easy to get the couple there.
NASA actually sent two more spiders in 2008 (not golden silk ball weavers themselves, but similar species). The space agency did this to inspire middle school students to think about science and space. But there was a logistical mishap, and the spiders only produced jumbled webs; those who would not give a glimpse of how microgravity affects them.
University of Basel
In 2011, however, the scientists were able to collect data comparing the weaving networks on the ISS with those on the ground. And the scientists found that the spiders actually built their webs differently in space than they did on Earth. But for the most part, the networks differed from normal only when scientists turned off the lights.
The scientists hypothesized that the weavers who set up their nets asymmetrically on Earth and whose network centers are shifted upwards would set them up symmetrically on the ISS. The idea is that in weightlessness there would be no compulsory function to create the shifted center. (The spiders hang on the ground and look down for prey. But in space, they don’t know which way to go.)
The scientists say the weavers built symmetrical nets in space, but only when all the lights were off. However, when the lights were on, the spiders could use their sight instead of their sense of gravity to build their web. When the astronauts turned on the spinning chamber lights on the spiders, the webs looked normal. The spiders even hung outside the centers of their webs, as on Earth.
“We didn’t think light would play a role in directing the spiders in space,” said Dr. Samuel Zschokke in a press release from the University of Basel. Zschokke, who analyzed the spider experiment and published the results with his colleagues, added: “Spiders have a backup system for orientation like this one, which seems surprising as they have never been exposed to an environment without gravity in the course of their development. ”
And while this is certainly a fascinating discovery, we can only think that the quote is a great opening creep for … SPIDING IN SPACE!