Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

#91: Sun Plane Takes 24-Hour Flight


By Danielle EganDecember 16, 2010 6:00 AM
solarplane.jpg
Solar Impulse/Stephanie Gros | NULL

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Each day, commercial aviation around the world dumps a half-million tons of carbon dioxide into the air. In Switzerland, however, one plane points the way toward cleaner skies.

On July 7 at 6:51 a.m., the sun-powered Solar Impulsetook off from a Swiss airfield and did not touch down for more than a day. Unmanned solar planes have been around since the 1980s, but the Impulse flew overnight while carrying a pilot, project cofounder André Borschberg. This aviation first was made possible by nearly 12,000 photovoltaic cells on the plane’s tail and 210-foot-long wings, which sent extra energy to batteries during the day to power its four propellers all night. Borschberg flew more than 26 hours without using any fuel.

Solar planes are not quite ready to displace jetliners, though. The Impulse averaged 24 miles per hour during the flight—about the same speed as the fastest human can run.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In