GROVER is an autonomous solar powered robot, which will be used to study snow accumulation over periods of time via ground penetrating radar. This study is being conducted following news in summer of 2012 wherein it was found that the Greenland surface experienced higher than normal temperatures which resulted in surface ice sheet melting by 97%.
NASA therefore expects that this new device will be able to detect a layer of ice sheet that formed after this melting period which will enable them to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. Testing of GROVER in prototype format and minus its solar panels was conducted in January last year, on the ski slopes of Idaho. GROVER stands 6’ tall and weighs 800 pounds. It is powered by solar energy and is operable in Polar Regions.
Once GROVER is put to test in Greenland it will be joined by another robot called Cool Robot which has been developed at Dartmouth College, Hanover. This robot is able to tow instrument packages to carry out in-depth study of both glaciological and atmospheric samples.
“We think it’s really powerful,” said Gabriel Trisca, a Boise State master’s degree student who developed GROVER’s software. “The fact is the robot could be anywhere in the world and we’ll be able to control it from anywhere.”
“GROVER is just like a spacecraft but it has to operate on the ground,” Michael Comberiate, a retired NASA engineer and manager of Goddard’s Engineering Boot Camp said. “It has to survive unattended for months in a hostile environment, with just a few commands to interrogate it and find out its status and give it some directions for how to accommodate situations it finds itself in.”