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Nasa's Grover Robotic Rover Will Explore The Icy, Hostile Landscapes Of... Earth (PICTURES) (VIDEO)

02/05/2013 14:26 BST | Updated 02/07/2013 10:12 BST

Nasa has announced an amazing new autonomous, solar-powered rover to explore strange, icy landscapes in our Solar System.

Well, on Earth actually.

The new Grover rover - short for 'Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle' - might look like a robot you'd usually see in illustrations on the surface of Mars. But its actual purpose is to help explore the cold, hostile landscapes of Greenland and other icy areas to better learn about changes to the Arctic ice sheet.

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Above: the Grover rover

The student-designed rover is being tested this month, along with its radar systems which can study how ice sheets grow over time.

Researching with polar rovers costs less than using aircraft or satellites, and means that scientists can essentially work from their desks.

The rover stands about six feet tall with its solar panels attached, and weighs 800 pounds. It is powered purely by the Sun, meaning it can operate in the fragile Arctic landscape without polluting the environment.

It moves slowly - 1.2 mph - but in the current tests will stick close to a base camp. Eventually it will be able to roam for longer distances and send back data in real time.

"We think it's really powerful," said Gabriel Trisca, a Boise State master's degree student who developed the rover's software. "The fact is the robot could be anywhere in the world and we'll be able to control it from anywhere."

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