I am interested in conducting a research project involving the design of a tool to aid astronauts to perform experiments on lunar surfaces, but I am having difficulties coming up with appropriate key words or questions to ask to begin my research. The specific scenario of focus is to design a tool that can act as an anchor in a sand-like medium on the surface of the moon; the goal is to design a tool with a method to dig/lodge/bury itself underneath the soil surface in a way such that removing the tool requires a maximal load. The research I will conduct is for the purpose of selecting an optimal geometry for the tool (i.e. my initial concept is a helical drill). As this phase of my project, I will assume the design will be rely on geometry alone, however, I may also incorporate applied forces within the tool in some way (i.e. pneumatics) to aid anchoring. I am interested in this topic in order to submit a proposal to the NASA Micro-g NeXT challenge (you can see their webpage for more details). Is this design problem related to fluid mechanics, and if so, what sub-discipline of fluid mechanics is concerned with modelling the behavior of dry, granular media such as sand?
Your problem doesn't fit neatly into one field of engineering.
Adhesion and setting of a chemical grout will come under fluid mechanics and possibly mechanical engineering.
A mechanical anchoring device fits into mechanical engineering.
How the soil and/or rock behaves when the anchor is embedded into it will be covered by the field of geomechanical/geotechnical engineering.
I would say mechanical engineering with specialization in nano-technologies and tribology. On Uni I've had a few subjects covering adhesion like Tribology, Nano-technologies etc. However also physicists and chemical engineers cover this phenomena as well, but only mechanical engineers and partially physicists cover the mechanical aspect of it.
You seem to be describing a tent peg. This should be in civil engineering or geotechnics. My search phrases would be ground achors for large tents and the like. You could also draw a picture of how your anchor will look like and what forces will act on it and ask for similar use cases, this would give you more ideas.
CE/geotechnics deals with friction on parts embedded in ground and the like, so it should be your friend.