Solar-powered plane shatters world record

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Solar Impulse
The Solar Impulse 2 has 17,000 solar cells ready to turn sunlight into energy.

The company Solar Impulse is breaking records with its Solar Impulse 2 plane, which soars through the skies using nothing but sunlight as energy! It took off from Abu Dhabi in Dubai this past March, to attempt the first ever around the world flight without fuel. Now, company co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg has broken the world record for solo endurance flight, surpassing Steve Fossett’s 2006 record of 26,389 miles over 76 hours!

He did so after taking off from Nagoya, Japan to fly over the shark-infested waters of the Pacific. The 1,380-mile journey from Japan to Hawaii marks the longest flight ever attempted on sheer solar power.

Solar Impulse 2 is a single-seat plane with an impressive wingspan of 236 feet. The 5,000-pound craft is covered in 17,000 solar cells, which are the tiny units responsible for collecting sunlight and converting it into usable energy. It has a top speed of about 90 mph, and as it flies on its worldwide journey, the craft cruises at a height of about 27,000 feet up.

What this plane contributes to science goes beyond flight tech, since the next frontier to conquer in technology isn’t just about size and speed anymore. There is an increased demand for technology that can create eco-friendly renewable energy. See, the fossil fuels we use today are harming the Earth, and causing climate change to occur at alarming rates. Innovations in technologies like solar energy excite scientists who hope to fend off global warming and create a more sustainable society.

Images courtesy of Solar Impulse on Google+.