The latest VIP visitor to Summit Station is an 800 lb, 6 ft tall (with solar panels) autonomous rover named GROVER, an acronym which serves double-duty standing for both “Greenland Rover” and “Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research.” GROVER, a solar-powered vehicle designed to collect ground penetrating radar (GPR) data which can be used to determine spatial accumulation rate variability, is a project led by Dr. Lora Koenig of NASA-Goddard. The rover itself was designed through a collaboration with student groups (GROVER is in its 3rd iteration, having been previously tested in Idaho and in Maryland) and with Boise State’s Dr. H.P. Marshall and his research group which has developed small, high frequency radar systems which are capable of detecting near-surface accumulation rate changes.
In addition to GROVER’s science and education missions, testing on the Greenland ice sheet also provides a harsh environment to prove technologies that can be used in extraterrestrial rover development.
GROVER has received a great deal of media attention lately, featured in the New York Times and around the blog-o-sphere. See the NASA press release and some of the coverage at the links below:
In June, GROVER will be joined by a second student-designed rover from Dartmouth College, the Cool Robot, a solar-powered scalable rover capable of being adapted to several kinds of autonomous instrumentation, in Summit Station’s first ever Robot Wars. Stayed tuned for the results.