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Solar Impulse 2 starts second bid across Pacific Ocean

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Tokyo: The Swiss-made solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, on Monday started its second bid at a record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean.

According to sources, the solar plane took off from Nagoya Airfield in Japan at dawn and is scheduled to land in Hawaii in approximately 120 hours.

Roughly eight hours into the flight, project spokeswoman Elke Neumann said that it was still unknown whether the plane would continue its bid for Hawaii, a flight that would last at least five days and nights and would need clear, calm conditions throughout, Japan Times reported.

“We are not sure if we can continue,” she said, adding that a decision would be taken in the early afternoon.

Co-piloted by Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg and Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, the Solar Impulse 2 is a lightweight aircraft driven by four electric propellers and banks of solar panels atop its wings and fuselage.

It took shelter at the Nagoya city airport, also known as Komaki Airport, on June 1, part way through a flight from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii.

A previous effort to resume the flight on June 24 was cancelled at the last minute. This time, the project team announced plans to take off only about an hour before departure.

“We just wanted to make sure that we are really safely on the way to Hawaii,” explained Neumann. “It created a lot of disappointment.”

In the statement, the team thanked its Japanese hosts for helping accommodate the aircraft and its support staff during the unplanned visit.

“Solar Impulse extends its gratitude to all those in Japan who have worked very hard to accommodate us,” the statement said.

From Hawaii, the plane aims to reach the US mainland and to cross the Atlantic while calm summer conditions still persist. It would end its round-the-world voyage at its starting point, Abu Dhabi.

Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, the single-seater Si2, started its journey from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 9.

The plane has set two world records for manned solar-powered flight.

The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey, that of 1,468 km between Muscat in Oman and Ahmedabad in India.

The second was for a ground speed of 117 knots (216 kmph), which was achieved during the flight from Varanasi in India to Mandalay. (IANS)

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Uninhabited Island in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean have the Highest Amount of Plastic Debris in the World

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Researchers at the University of Tasmania say remote and uninhabited Henderson Island has the worst amount of plastic pollution in the world. (U. of Tasmania), VOA

May 17, 2017: The beaches on a remote, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean have the highest amount of plastic debris in the world.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania say Henderson Island, which is more than 5,000 kilometer from any major population center, is strewn with roughly 37.7 million pieces of plastic waste.

Put another way, the beaches on Henderson Island are covered with about 671 pieces of plastic litter per square meter, which researchers say is the highest density ever recorded.

“What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans,” said Jennifer Lavers of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and lead author of a paper about the pollution in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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 Henderson Island, which is part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands territory, sits right in the middle of the Pacific Gyre current, which makes it a “focal point” for garbage from South America as well as from fishing boats.

Researchers say their sampling of the debris at five sites on the island leads them to believe there is more than 17 tons of plastic on the island and around 3,570 new pieces of litter being deposited every day.

Lavers noted, “It’s likely that our data actually underestimates the true amount of debris on Henderson Island as we were only able to sample pieces bigger than two millimeters down to a depth of 10 centimeters, and we were unable to sample along cliffs and rocky coastline.”

Every year, the world produces some 300 million tons of plastic, much of which is not recycled. Plastic disintegrates very slowly, and when it ends up floating in the ocean, it can lead to “entanglement and ingestion” by animals, birds and fish.

“Research has shown that more than 200 species are known to be at risk from eating plastic, and 55 percent of the world’s seabirds, including two species found on Henderson Island, are at risk from marine debris,” Lavers said. (VOA)