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"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it."
- Robert Heinlein

Iron Fingers  
  Special metal manipulators set on the hull of a space craft, and manipulated from the inside.  

It was especially adapted for the use of exploring meteors, for all sides were studded with grapples and jointed drills as well as claw-like iron rods. These latter, which were also jointed, were capable of acting in the capacity of fingers in grasping material and placing it into the receptacles which lined the sides of the little space car. All of the exterior apparatus was manipulated by mechanical control from within.
From The Death's Head Meteor, by Neil R. Jones.
Published by Air Wonder Stories in 1930
Additional resources -

Landing on an asteroid was a dangerous process:

Jan stood ready at the grapple controls, waiting for the supreme moment of contact. It came with a terrific jar which threw him out of his seat against the side of the flyer, bruising him severely, just as he shoved over the grappling controls. He must have made a slight mistake in his calculations of angles, thought Jam, for he had not been prepared for the shock of the contact which greeted him. The grapples had taken hold, anyway, and he was safe for the present, at least. He feared, however, that part of his outside apparatus had been damaged in the contact, but if there was enough of it left with which to work on the meteor...

(Iron Fingers from 'The Death's Head Meteor')

He tested the grapple controls, the rock drills and the iron fingers, finding that over half the number on the flyer next the meteor were either broken or jammed out of shape. With the remaining exterior apparatus, he took samples of the meteorís substance, drilling out small chunks and depositing them into the receptacles along the side.

Compare to sensitive robot fingers from The Exile of Time (1931) by Ray Cummings, waldo from Waldo (1942) by Robert Heinlein and Christmas Bush Motile Robot from Rocheworld (1985) by Robert Forward. See also landing on an asteroid from Murder on the Asteroid (1933) by Eando Binder.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Death's Head Meteor
  More Ideas and Technology by Neil R. Jones
  Tech news articles related to The Death's Head Meteor
  Tech news articles related to works by Neil R. Jones

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