Daily VideoApril 14, 2014
Swiss aviators unveil solar-powered airplane
After 12 years of research and testing, two Swiss aviators recently unveiled the Solar Impulse-2, a huge airplane that runs on solar-power.
It’s wingspan is wider than a Boeing 747, often referred to as the Jumbo Jet, but weighs no more than a large car. The plane is covered with more than 17,000 solar cells.
The designers and pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have made several long trips on a previous version of the plane– including a flight across the Mediterranean — from Switzerland to Morocco. They say the new plane is even better.
“We have the best electrical motors, the best batteries, the lightest possible structure, the most efficient consuming electricity products in the airplane cockpit,” said Piccard.
Next year, the two plan to fly the plane around the world; a 500 hour journey over the world’s vast oceans, half of it at night … in the dark. However, they expect that the solar cells can harness enough energy from the sun to keep the plane on course.
Warm up questions
- How many gallons of gas do you think it takes to fly a plane for 10 hours?
- What sources of energy do we use? Where do they come from?
- How does solar energy compare to other sources of energy in terms of its cost to the environment?
- Do you think that all planes will fly on solar power in the near future? Is that realistic?
Imagine that you are the head of a plane manufacturing company. Weigh the risks and benefits of a solar-powered plane compared to a traditional gas-powered plane. Would you choose to put money into research and development (R&D) for solar powered planes or would you continue to keep your money invested in making the same gas-powered planes.
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
After decades of isolation, Cuba could soon expand access to consumer technology and the Internet. Continue reading
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered the elimination of all trans fats from the food supply within the next three years, a long-awaited move that is expected to save thousands of lives per year. Continue reading
The reforms were spurred in part by the death of Kalief Browder, a former Rikers inmate who was accused of stealing a backpack at age 16. Continue reading
The racially-motivated shooting of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, SC, has spurred discussion and debate about the state of racism in America. Continue reading
Facing low graduation rates, Rainier Beach High School took an ambitious approach to turn things around. Continue reading