A team of engineers and marine biologists at the University of California, San Diego, led by Michael Frank, a Ph.D. candidate at the Jacobs School of Engineering, have designed a space exploration device modeled on sea urchin’s mouth and teeth. Sea urchins have strong, dome-shaped teeth, and intricate muscles that help them cut through tough rocks and weeds. This inspired the team of researchers to develop sediment sampler for space vehicles that can gather ground samples without disturbing the surrounding area. To design their device, they studied the sea urchins’ mouth structure by scanning them using microCT, a 3D microscopy technique. Apart from this, they used finite element analysis, which allowed them to determine the importance of the keel – a T-shaped structure running down the middle of each of the urchin's teeth – to the teeth's performance. After developing the device, they succeeded in using it to gather soil samples from soil that simulated Martian soil in density and humidity.
Read more in Science Daily.