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After the historic journey, Solar plane lands in Dayton, Ohio

The plane can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 meters), but generally flies at lower altitudes at night to conserve energy.

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The Solar Impulse 2 airplane, flown by test pilot Markus Scherdel, flies off the coast of Oahu during a test flight from Kalaeloa Airfield in Kapolei, Hawaii, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry
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By Chris Michaud

(Reuters) – An experimental airplane powered solely by energy from the sun landed in Ohio on Saturday night on the latest leg of its historic bid by pilots and developers to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel.

The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 aircraft arrived in Dayton shortly before 10 p.m. local time, some 17 hours after leaving Phoenix Goodyear Airport, the project team said on its official Twitter page.

 Close-up of a 1928 reconstruction of the first Wright Brothers' aircraft. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Close-up of a 1928 reconstruction of the first Wright Brothers’ aircraft. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

“People told the Wright Brothers & us what we wanted to achieve was impossible,” said Bertrand Piccard after landing. “They were wrong!”

The locale was of special significance to the pilots, as the  home base to aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Amanda Wright Lane, a descendant of the brothers, neither of whom ever married, was on hand to welcome the flight.

With a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 but an ultra-light carbon-fiber skin and overall weight of a car, the Solar Impulse cruises at speeds ranging from only 34 to 62 miles per hour (55 to 100 kph).

The four engines of the propeller-driven aircraft are powered exclusively by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. Excess energy is stored in four batteries during daylight hours to keep the plane flying after dark.

The plane can climb to 28,000 feet (8,500 meters), but generally flies at lower altitudes at night to conserve energy.

Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been taking turns piloting the plane on each leg of the journey. Both have trained to stay alert for long stretches of time by practicing meditation and hypnosis.

Borschberg set a new endurance record for the longest non-stop solo flight last July during a 118-hour trans-Pacific crossing, over five days and five nights, from Japan to Hawaii. He also set new duration and distance records for solar-powered flight. Battery damage sustained during the crossing kept the aircraft grounded for nine months.

The Swiss team’s ultimate goal is to achieve the first round-the-world solar-powered flight, part of its campaign to bolster support for clean-energy technologies.

The team hopes eventually to complete its circumnavigation in Abu Dhabi, the starting point for the journey in March 2015.

The two men completed an earlier multi-flight crossing of the United States in a prototype of the solar plane in 2013 as a precursor to their globe-circling quest.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud and Steve Gorman)

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  • Pritam Go Green

    That’s great !!! Now even solar planes are being manufactured. We all collectively need to work in a positive direction so that the world becomes less dependent on non renewable sources of energy.

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Scientists Go Beyond The Laws Of Nature To Unlock Secrets Of Hawaii Volcano

Geologists have died studying active volcanoes

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Dr. Jessica Ball of USGS, a geologist and volcanologist who does research at the US Geological Survey, is updating Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists on the ground during a helicopter overflight of the ocean entry of the fissure 8 lava flow where a laze (lava haze) plume is visible over the active parts of the flow margin near Kapoho, Hawaii, June 8, 2018.
Dr. Jessica Ball of USGS, a geologist and volcanologist who does research at the US Geological Survey, is updating Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists on the ground during a helicopter overflight of the ocean entry of the fissure 8 lava flow where a laze (lava haze) plume is visible over the active parts of the flow margin near Kapoho, Hawaii, June 8, 2018. VOA

Dressed in heavy cotton, a helmet and respirator, Jessica Ball worked the night shift monitoring “fissure 8,” which has been spewing fountains of lava as high as a 15-story building from a slope on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.

The lava poured into a channel oozing toward the Pacific Ocean several miles away. In the eerie orange nightscape in the abandoned community of Leilani Estates, it looked like it was flowing toward the scientist, but that was an optical illusion, Ball said.

“The volcano is doing what it wants to. … We’re reminded what it’s like to deal with the force of nature,” said Ball, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.

They are a mix of USGS staff, University of Hawaii researchers and trained volunteers working six-to-eight-hour shifts in teams of two to five.

They avoid synthetics because they melt in the intense heat and wear gloves to protect their hands from sharp volcanic rock and glass. Helmets protect against falling lava stones, and respirators ward off sulfur gases.

This is not a job for the faint hearted. Geologists have died studying active volcanoes. David Alexander Johnston, a USGS volcanologist was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. In 1991,

American volcanologist Harry Glicken and his French colleagues Katia and Maurice Krafft were killed while conducting avalanche research on Mount Unzen in Japan.

Ball, a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, located in upstate New York near the Canadian border, compared Kilauea’s eruptions to Niagara Falls.

“It gives you the same feeling of power and force,” she said.

Worth the risks

Kilauea, which has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, is one of the world’s most closely monitored volcanoes, largely from the now-abandoned Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the summit. But the latest eruption is one of Kilauea’s biggest and could prove to be a bonanza for scientists.

Ball and the USGS teams are studying how the magma – molten rock from the earth’s crust – tracks through a network of tubes under the volcano in what is known as the “Lower East Rift Zone,” before ripping open ground fissures and spouting fountains of lava.

They are trying to discover what warning signs may exist for future eruptions to better protect the Big Island’s communities, she said.

Fissure 8 is one of 22 around Kilauea that have destroyed over 1,000 structures and forced 2,000 people to evacuate. They are what make this volcanic eruption a rare event, Ball said.

“They’re common for Kilauea on a geologic time scale, but in a human time scale it’s sort of a career event,” she said.

Meanwhile, the summit is erupting almost every day with steam or ash, said Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for the County of Hawaii, where Kilauea is located.

Scientists had thought the steam explosions resulted from lava at the summit dropping down the volcano’s throat into groundwater. This was based on Kilauea’s 1924 eruption, to which the current one is most often compared.

Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.
Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago. Pixabay

But the explosions this time have released lots of sulfur dioxide gas, which means magma is involved, said Michael Poland, scientist-in-charge at Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, one of many volcanologists seconded to Kilauea.

“So we have already made a conceptual leap, leading us to believe it was different from what we had understood,” he said.

Poland and other scientists pulled equipment and archives out of the abandoned observatory at the volcano summit after hundreds of small eruption-induced quakes damaged the structure, and have decamped to the University of Hawaii in Hilo on the Big Island.

The archives included photos, seismic records and samples, some 100 or more years old, Poland said. “These materials are invaluable to someone who says, ‘I have this new idea, and I want to test it using past data.'”

Now the second longest Kilauea eruption on record, surpassed only by one in 1955, this eruption offers far better research opportunities than previous events, Ball said.

Also read: Earthquake Then Volcano, There is No Relief For the Hawaii Residents

“We’ve got much better instruments and we’ve got longer to collect the data,” she said, (VOA)