A Moment of Science

Solar-Powered Plane Takes To The Sky

The Zephyr has been flying for over a week without landing, smashing the flight record for an unmanned aircraft.

zephyr

Photo: QinetiQ

The craft has a wingspan of 22.5m.

This amazing new airplane, called Zephyr, runs on pure sunshine. It doesn’t even need a pilot!

This British-made UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) took off on Friday, July 9 from the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona and is still flying! That already smashes the record for UAV flights.

Zephyr is scheduled to land after it has flown for a continuous 14 days and nights. Theoretically, however, this aircraft could be left to fly much longer. It never needs to come down for fuel! The battery stores energy to be used when there isn’t any sunlight.

The craft has a wingspan of 74 feet and yet it is light enough for five people to launch by lifting it up and running down the runway.

Such a simple and efficient design can have lots of applications, such as Earth observation duties for scientific programs.

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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