The Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum is full of awesome stuff that you could spend hours gawking at. One of their weirdest gems is finally on display after years of being hidden away on a storage shelf somewhere.
Between July 28 to September 25, 1973, NASA sent two common Cross spiders into space to see what effects zero gravity would have on their web making. The idea began when a Lexington, Mass high school student name Judith Miles proposed the test as part of student focused Skylab 3 experiment.
“Since the spider senses its own weight to determine the required thickness of web material and uses both the wind and gravity to initiate construction of its web, the lack of gravitational force in Skylab would provide a new and different stimulus to the spider's behavioral response.” - NASA
At first nothing happened. The spiders swam madly in place thanks to the lack of gravity, but after only two days, Arabella began building a web. Eventually Anita spun one herself shortly afterwards, and though the webs were finer than the customary ones spun here on earth, they weren’t really all that different. The discovery revealed quite a bit about the effect of zero gravity on motor response.
Unfortunatly both spiders died in orbit, but their sacrifce gave scientists quite a bit to think about, and those lasting answers have since help to further the study of zero gravity. Today Arabella’s tiny spider body is on display at the US Space and Rocket Museum, or if you’d like to see the cages where they spun their webs, they are is currently on display at the Space Science exhibition at the National Air & Space Museum.