Observing microclimate changes is one of the most popular applications of wireless sensor networks. However, some target environments are often too dangerous or inaccessible to humans or large robots and there are many challenges for deploying and maintaining wireless sensor networks in those unfriendly environments. This paper presents a mobile sensor network system for solving this problem. The system architecture, the mobile node design, the basic behaviors and advanced network capabilities have been investigated respectively. A wheel-based robotic node architecture is proposed here that can add controlled mobility to wireless sensor networks. A testbed including some prototype nodes has also been created for validating the basic functions of the proposed mobile sensor network system. Motion performance tests have been done to get the positioning errors and power consumption model of the mobile nodes. Results of the autonomous deployment experiment show that the mobile nodes can be distributed evenly into the previously unknown environments. It provides powerful support for network deployment and maintenance and can ensure that the sensor network will work properly in unfriendly environments.