So how do you stick or pick stuff in space? Surely FeviKwik or Tape wouldn’t be enough as the adhesion would wear off pretty quickly. Till now scientists at NASA used velcros. These velcros had specific mates and would only stick to those mates, also the adhesion wouldn’t last long.
Now some researchers at NASA have come up with what they call a Gecko Gripper. Geckos are these lizards who can climb a wall in about 2 seconds, and best of all they don’t have any glue producing feet!
Geckos follow the concept of van der Waals forces which basically states that the electrons orbiting the nuclei of molecules are not evenly spaced. This means that one side of a molecule is positively charged and the other is negatively charged; this leads to the creation of a slight electrical field. A gecko’s feet consists of trillions of tiny hair. When a gecko applies weight on its feet, it basically creates an attraction between the molecules. Due to this its feet stick on a surface.
Following this concept the scientists at NASA have developed artificial hair for adhesive purposes, Gecko Grippers do not require a specific mate nor do they leave any residue. The newest generation of these grippers can lift more than 150N of force in microgravity and their stickiness also doesn’t wear off that easily.
NASA hopes that this technology can be used mountain climbing and rock drilling expeditions.