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The original item was published from 12/30/2022 7:37:12 AM to 1/18/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Quality of Life

Posted on: December 30, 2022

[ARCHIVED] "Science Café" Online with the Museum of Nature and Science and Sigma Xi

Picture of Douglas Cortes

The Museum of Nature & Science and Sigma Xi present “Science Café – Bio-inspiration and extraterrestrial subsurface exploration,” with guest speaker Douglas Cortes, Ph.D.
Dr. Cortes joins us via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 from New Mexico State University. Please email or call 575/522-3120 for a link to the program or go to with webinar ID 82547784267.
 On Earth, heavy equipment provides the reaction forces needed to overcome the resistance for drilling and mining below the surface. However, these same machines will not work on the surface of the moon which has a low gravity and low power environment.
 Dr. Cortes and his team at NMSU have turned to earthworms for inspiration to overcome the limitations of exploring terrestrial and extraterrestrial subsurface environments. Earthworms have had more than 300 million years to develop and fine tune sophisticated light-weight subsurface penetration strategies that work more with the ground than against it.
 These organisms not only use granular media for support but are also capable of adjusting their deformable bodies to gain mechanical advantages and maneuver around obstacles, reducing the energy needed for excavation. Learn about the results of bio-inspired tests performed by Dr. Cortes and his team using a simple earthworm-inspired soil penetration device that combines a miniature steel cone penetrometer with a soft membrane deployed into a bed of mock lunar rocks (LMS-1).
 Douglas Cortes, Ph.D., M.ASCE is the Harold Foreman Endowed Associate Professor for Excellence in Civil Engineering at NMSU. He received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and doctorate degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
 Dr. Cortes is the secretary of the ASCE Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering Committee and a senior investigator at the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics. He also serves as NMSU’s point of contact at the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium.
 His research interests include bio-inspired geotechnics, ground improvement, wireless underground sensor networks, asset management, and planetary landed exploration, construction, and mining. His research group is funded by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, National Science Foundation, and NASA.
The Museum of Nature & Science, 411 N. Main St., is accessible via RoadRUNNER Transit Route 1, Stop 1. For information, visit the Museum System website at: or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @LCMuseums.
For information, contact Stephanie Hawkins, Education Curator, at 575/541-3372 or by email at

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