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Grover the rover set to explore Greenland

Kevan Karanjia, Staff Writer
May 4, 2013 — It looks like a mini-tank and uses radio waves to see underground, Grover the NASA rover is set to embark on a mission to explore what's beneath the ice sheets of Greenland.

NASA's new Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research (Grover) is set to analyze what secrets lie below Greenland's ice sheet, which is over 3 km thick. 

The robot is operated by remote control and is powered by solar panels. 

Grover analyzes what's underground by sending radio wave pulses using its built-in radar. 

As the radio waves bounce off pieces of ice and rock, researchers can begin to better comprehend the composition of ice sheets thousands of years old. 

"Robots like GROVER will give us a new tool for glaciology studies," said Lora Koenig, a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in a press release. 

The rover is a cost effective way of analyzing the polar regions, costing less than aircraft or satellites. 

Developed in 2010 and 2011, Grover was a project thought up by teams of students participating in summer engineering boot camps at Goddard. 

With its solar panels, Grover stands almost 2 metres tall and weighs 800 pounds. 

In recent years Greenland's ice sheet has experienced above average rates of melt and scientists expect Grover to detect the layer of the ice sheet that formed after this melting occurred. 

2012 was one of the worst years for melting, almost 97 per cent of Greenland's surface layer melted that summer. 

Scientists working on the project hope to learn more about the ice sheet's overall mass balance and its contribution to sea level rise. More radar data will help shed light on Greenland's snow accumulation, which is compared to the volume of ice lost to sea each year.

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