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Meet GROVER the Rover, Set For Greenland Exploration

A GROVER prototype during testing in January 2013. Credit: Gabriel Trisca, Boise State University

A GROVER prototype during testing in January 2013. Credit: Gabriel Trisca, Boise State University

How fast is Greenland’s ice sheet melting in response to climate change, and how is it recovering? A new NASA rover with the friendly name of GROVER (Greeland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research) is going to try to figure that out.

GROVER will rove across a small area of the massive ice sheet at a location called Summit Camp, which is a National Science Foundation outpost. On board it has ground-penetrating radar that is intended to figure out how the snow builds up in layers through time.

“Robots like GROVER will give us a new tool for glaciology studies,” stated Lora Koenig, a glaciologist at Goddard and science advisor on the project.

A prototype of GROVER during testing in January 2012. The rover does not have its solar panels attached here. The laptop was used as part of that specific test only. Credit: Gabriel Trisca, Boise State University

A prototype of GROVER during testing in January 2012. The rover does not have its solar panels attached here. The laptop was used as part of that specific test only. Credit: Gabriel Trisca, Boise State University

The student-designed project came to be during development phases in 2010 and 2011, principally at Boise State University in Idaho. At six feet tall, it’s way more massive than its Sesame Street namesake: it tips the scale at 800 pounds, including solar panels, and has two snowmobile tracks built in to move around.

“GROVER is just like a spacecraft but it has to operate on the ground,” stated Michael Comberiate, a retired NASA engineer and manager of Goddard’s Engineering Boot Camp.

“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.”

Studies began on May 3 and will continue through June 8.

Source: NASA

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • "Me" May 7, 2013, 2:57 PM

    Great to see $’s are going into Eden Earth. The Grover vehicle is so needed as well as the Weather Goes-R Sat.. The W.Goes-R-Sat will be launched in 2015. Greenland is so key to ice sheet melt inducing higher ocean levels. The President of the Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean is crying for help. Those islands are going under water at an alarming rate as well as many others. ….take care.

  • Troll May 9, 2013, 1:17 PM

    Nice! Lets spend more on expensive toys that tell us PRECISELY how the snow builds up in layers through time…
    …OR we could spend some money on seedlings and labor to re-plant all the trees, which our species has devoured for thousands of years with no plan for the future whatsoever *shrugs*

    At the very least I suppose somebody got a military contract out of this to build tracked drones to drive around killing people in all the indiscriminate gory we’ve grown to love – Who knows we might kill enough people to give the earth a chance to regenerate enough trees to put the climate back in order :)

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