NASA’s Grover new Earth-bound autonomous, solar-operated robot, that carries a ground-penetrating radar to examine the layers of Greenland’s ice sheet. Image © Lora Koenig / NASA Goddard
GROVER’s findings, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, will help scientists understand how the massive ice sheet gains and loses ice.
The GROVER team, led by glaciologist Lora Koenig from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., arrived in Summit Camp, the highest spot in Greenland, on May 6, 2013. After loading and testing the rover’s radar and fixing a minor communications glitch, the team began the robot’s tests on the ice on May 8, defying winds of up to 23 mph (37 kph) and temperatures as low as minus 22 F (minus 30 C).
The GROVER tests will continue through June 8. GROVER, a prototype, was first developed in 2010 and 2011 during summer engineering boot camps at Goddard, before further refinement, with NASA funding, at Boise State University. Its trial in Greenland will also serve as a test of using rovers in harsh polar regions to gather data.