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Drilling seeds

204 views 1 year ago
A thick layer of dust covers the surface of the terrestrial planets of the Solar Systems, of moons, and some asteroids, hiding the ground underneath and its mysteries. This regolith has been formed over billions of years by the impact of large and small meteoroids breaking down surface rocks. On Moon, nearly the entire surface is covered with regolith, bedrock being exposed only on very steep-sided crater walls and the occasional lava channel, and also on Mars, regolith covers vast expanses of surface. When in December 2007, the rover Spirit's dead wheel scraped off the upper layer of the Martian soil, it uncovered a patch of ground that thrilled scientists, showing evidence of a past environment that would have been perfect for microbial life.
Growing interest in extraterrestrial subsurface prompts an examination of advanced technologies for its exploration to obtain geophysical data. One of the major limitations of sampling in relatively low gravity environments (such as asteroids, moons, comets and small planets) is the need for high axial force when using conventional drills.
The self-burial strategies of some seeds (such as the Erodium cicutarium) address this limitation by applying a motion that requires no additional steady coupling with the surface.
Providing probes and sensors with this unconventional behaviour would facilitate the exploration of the surface underneath regolith, as well as of asteroids, especially rubble-piles. Show less
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