According to The Huffington Post, David Hu, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology; and his mechanical engineering PhD student, Guillermo Amador, have been studying the different ways in which cats and other animals keep themselves clean. Their hope in studying how these animals actually groom themselves is to discover more efficient ways to keep spaceships, robots, and other man-made objects clean.
a release about the study, Hu explains: “Drones and other autonomous rovers, including our machines on Mars, are susceptible to failure because of the accumulation of airborne particles," including dirt and other pollutants. These are the same things that affect our pets.
The team then focused on the ways in which hair helps animals stay clean. They found that eyelashes were key to the process of "protect[ing] mammals by minimizing airflow and funneling particles away from eyes."
While the information Hu and his team found has not been put to use on NASA's Mars Rover just yet, he says that by collecting this data, they will be able to develop better ways to keep these man-made objects clean.
“Understanding how biological systems, like eyelashes, prevent soiling by interacting with the environment," Hu said, "can help inspire low-energy solutions for keeping sensitive equipment free from dust and dirt."