NASA will begin testing a new rover tomorrow to see if it can withstand the harsh, frozen environment of the Greenland Ice Sheet. If the tests go as planned, the new GROVER robot will set off to roam the ice sheet for the rest of the summer, picking up information on Greenland's snow accumulation. Previously, this would be done using more expensive or inefficient methods, such as with aircrafts or by sending out researchers on snowmobiles. But now, researchers will be able to collect this data by remotely operating the rover, which will remain powered throughout an entire summer day by two large solar panels.
Greenland's ice sheet saw melting across nearly all of its surface last summer due to higher than normal temperatures, and researchers are looking to determine the volume of ice that was lost. GROVER was built specifically to detect details of the ice sheet using a ground-penetrating radar mounted to its rear, and it can traverse the snowy landscape using two large snowmobile treads. The rover began development in 2010, and if it's determined to be working properly after an initial testing, the robot will finally travel away from NASA's Greenland camp, exploring the ice and communicate with the group by satellite.