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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)

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Extra heat trapped inside Pacific, Indian ocean : NASA

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Washington: A layer of the Indian and Pacific oceans, between 100-300 metres below the surface, has been accumulating more heat than previously recognized, thus temporarily hiding global warming, NASA has reported.

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The study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

According to researchers, this shifting pattern of ocean heat accounts for the slowdown in the global surface temperature trend observed during the past decade.

“Greenhouse gases continued to trap extra heat but for about 10 years starting in the early 2000s, global average surface temperature stopped climbing, and even cooled a bit, explained Josh Willis from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

During the 20th century, as greenhouse gas concentrations increased and trapped more heat energy on Earth, global surface temperatures also increased.

However, in the 21st century, this pattern seemed to change temporarily.

The study, published in the journal Science, also found that the movement of warm water has affected surface temperatures.

Researchers Veronica Nieves, Willis and Bill Patzert analysed direct ocean temperature measurements, including observations from a global network of about 3,500 ocean temperature probes known as the Argo array.

These measurements show temperatures below the surface have been increasing.

The Pacific Ocean is the primary source of the subsurface warm water found in the study, though some of that water now has been pushed to the Indian Ocean.

Since 2003, unusually strong trade winds and other climatic features have been piling up warm water in the upper 1,000 feet of the western Pacific, pinning it against Asia and Australia.

“The western Pacific got so warm that some of the warm water is leaking into the Indian Ocean through the Indonesian archipelago,” Nieves noted.

Pauses of a decade or more in Earth’s average surface temperature warming have happened before in modern times, with one occurring between the mid-1940s and late 1970s.

“In the long term, there is robust evidence of unabated global warming,” Nieves said.

(IANS)

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Solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii in record-breaking feat

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Image by Reuters
Image by Reuters

 

Honolulu (US): Solar Impulse 2 (SI2), the first solar-powered aircraft in an attempt to fly around the world, safely landed at Kalaeloa Airport in Honolulu, capital of the US state of Hawaii, at 5.51 a.m. local time (1551 GMT) on Friday after a 118-hour non-stop flight over the Pacific.
Swiss explorer Andre Borshberg, the pilot, finally walked out of the cockpit after remaining there waiting for one more hour upon landing, Xinhua news agency reported.

The SI2 finished the 8,200-km of non-stop solo flight from Nagoya in Japan before it landed successfully at the Kalaeloa Airport in Honolulu.

Three records were set during the trip — the longest distance of non-stop flying, the longest solo flight and the longest solar-powered flight without any fuel.

The craft reached the sky of Honolulu at 2 a.m. local time (1200 GMT), but due to poor visibility condition of the airport at night, it had to hover in the sky for four more hours before landing at dawn.

Hawaii is the eighth leg of the plane’s 35,000-km journey around the world that started from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on March 9. It is piloted alternatively by Swiss explorers Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard.

On the trip from Japan to Hawaii, Borschberg navigated alone for 118 hours, almost five days and nights, in an unheated and unpressurised cockpit, sleeping in bursts of 20 minutes while on autopilot.

“Can you imagine that a solar-powered airplane without fuel can now fly longer than a jet plane,” Piccard said earlier. “This is a clear message that clean technologies can achieve impossible goals. “

The solar plane weighs about as much as a family sedan and has 17,000 solar cells across its wingspan. It took 12 years to build this solar plane.

The round-the-world trip is expected to take some 25 flight days, broken up into 12 legs at speeds between 50 kph and 100 kph.

On the way to Hawaii, its average speed was around 70 kph.

SI2 initially left Nanjing, China, on May 31 for Hawaii, but was forced to land in the central Japanese city of Nagoya due to “a wall of clouds” over the Pacific.

The next leg of the flight will be from Honolulu to Phoenix in the US state of Arizona, and from there Borschberg and Piccard will fly together across the Atlantic on a return path to Abu Dhabi.

(IANS)