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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.

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

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.

Next Story

NASA’s instrument to measure Sun’s energy

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer -- Earth's natural sunscreen

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA's new instrument can measure incoming solar energy. Pixabay
  • NASA’s new instrument can measure Sun’s incoming energy
  • The instrument is called Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1)
  • This can help bring in an energy revolution in future

To continue long-term measurements of the Sun’s incoming energy, NASA has powered on a new instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS).

Solar energy is one of the biggest energy sources in the world.

The instrument, Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March, NASA said.

“TSIS-1 extends a long data record that helps us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, and the effects that solar variability has on the Earth system and climate change,” said Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. TSIS-1 studies the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard.

Also Read: Why is the Sun’s atmosphere much hotter than its surface

This sensor’s data will give scientists a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate.

The second onboard sensor, called the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light. Measuring the distribution of the Sun’s energy is important because each wavelength of light interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere differently.

Measuring solar energy is one big technological developement. Pixabay

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer — Earth’s natural sunscreen that protects life from harmful radiation.

“All systems are operating within their expected ranges,” said Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in the US. IANS