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NASA researchers learning from gecko grippers, helping inspire new R&D

Thanks, geckos!
By: Michael Hatamoto | Science, Space & Robotics News | Posted: Aug 22, 2015 3:45 pm

Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are researching new ways to get things to stick in space, and have found inspiration from geckos.



Unlike tape, which loses its ability to adhere objects together after several uses, geckos have tiny hairs on the bottom of their feet so they are able to easily cling to objects over and over again. Researchers now hope a new material with thin synthetic hairs is able to make the material stick to desired surfaces - even in space.


The new technology has a great advantage over Velcro, a popular solution used in space, as it doesn't leave residue and there is no mating surface required on intended targets. The new gecko-inspired gripping technology is being tested during microgravity tests, including on a 20-pound cube and 250-pound person.


There are so many different uses of this sticky technology: "We might eventually grab satellites to repair them, service them, and we also could grab space garbage and try to clear it out of the way," said Aaron Parness, an engineer at the JPL.




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