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Rediff.com  » News » NASA in a web: Where has the spider gone?

NASA in a web: Where has the spider gone?

November 20, 2008 15:26 IST

Where has the spider gone? That is the puzzling question that seems to be worrying scientists in the Space Shuttle Endeavour. 

The bug was taken to space as part of a research mission. Scientists were curious to see how the spiders would react in weightlessness. What will a spider do in space? Can it create a web in space? That is why they were taken in the shuttle.   

 "We don't believe that it's escaped the overall payload enclosure," Kirk Shireman, Nasa's deputy space station programme manager, was qouted as saying by the Times. 

A Telegraph report says "it was hoped the missing spider might have sought refuge in its neighbour's tank, but the remaining spider has spun a web so thick, to cope with the zero-gravity conditions, that is is impossible to check".

But NASA scientists told Times that "the second orb-weaver was not exactly lost, it just couldn't be found". 

The Times report adds, "Astronauts suspect that the spider may have simply gone for an impromptu spacewalk into its neighbour's tank, though the pair were securely sealed off from one another at launch and were meant to spend their three-month research mission apart."

The spiders will return to Earth when the Space Shuttle lands later this month.