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Around the World in a Solar Plane

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the stormy-weather dept.

Science 153

Coati writes "Bertrand Piccard, the guy that flew around the world in a balloon, wants to do it again, this time in a solar plane."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

dritte mal heute ??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582031)

Dass glaube ich nicht !?
--
Adolf Hitroll :)

Sunny skies (4, Funny)

Jumper99 (51637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582033)

Guess he won't be flying at night.....

Re:Sunny skies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582093)

No joke, I wonder if his flight will be exactly 24 hours or what. How fast would he have to fly to stay lit the whole time?

Re:Sunny skies (-1, Troll)

big_groo (237634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582119)

troll ( P ) Pronunciation Key (trl)
v. trolled, trolling, trolls
v. tr.

1.
1. To fish for by trailing a baited line from behind a slowly moving boat.
2. To fish in by trailing a baited line: troll the lake for bass.
3. To trail (a baited line) in fishing.
2. Slang. To patrol (an area) in search for someone or something: " [Criminals] troll bus stations for young runaways" (Pete Axthelm).
3. Music.
1. To sing in succession the parts of (a round, for example).
2. To sing heartily: troll a carol.
4. To roll or revolve.

v. intr.

1. To fish by trailing a line, as from a moving boat.
2.
1. To wander about; ramble.
2. Slang. To patrol an area in search for someone or something.
3. Music. To sing heartily or gaily.
4. To roll or spin around.

n.

1.
1. The act of trolling for fish.
2. A lure, such as a spoon or spinner, that is used for trolling.
2. Music. A vocal composition in successive parts; a round.

[Middle English trollen, to wander about, from Old French troller, of Germanic origin.]troller n.

Re:Sunny skies (4, Funny)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582113)

Guess he won't be flying at night.....

As long as he can design a solar plane which can fly at mach 2, this shouldn't be a problem.

RTFA Rant (1)

cynicalmoose (720691) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582137)

He wants, by 2006, to have a through-the-night solar flight (36h). If he could do the circumnavigation in 24h, though, he could just avoid the night, and travel around the world at the same speed a day travels across the earth. Seems risky, if you suddenly hit problems over the pacific.

It's a long way to glide.

Re:RTFA Rant (0)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582152)

Traveling around the world in 24 hrs is not something you can do in a glider/solar powered plane. Think 40,000 km/24 hrs ~= 2,000 km/h

Re:Sunny skies (4, Informative)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582168)

You need to make 700mph to fly arround the world in complete sunlight, starting at sunrise on the equator, and taking 36 hours arriving at your departure point at sunset the next day.

Project name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582206)

The best name for this project would be Icarus. The Icarus name has been used by many projects before, which might make it undesireable. But, the Icarus name fits this project to a T.

Re:Project name. (1)

hatchetman82 (719635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582664)

but considering icarus' final fate, you have to wonder why they keep naming projects after him no ?
dedalus is a bit better

Oh no! RAIN! (2, Funny)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582036)

Hope he stays above the clouds :-)

Simon

Fist pr0st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582039)

I dedicate this pr0sty f1st to the good people at goatsecx [goatse.cx] , makers of Fine Anal Stretching equipment.

no sun = no fly (5, Funny)

ikoleverhate (607286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582040)

he'd better not fly over the UK then.. no sun here ;)

OK... (3, Funny)

penis fish (671987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582044)

Yeah, but does it run Linux?

FAIL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582060)

IT

(YOU)

Love Always,
News For Turds

Re:FAIL (-1)

penis fish (671987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582085)

asl?

Re:OK... (2, Offtopic)

big_groo (237634) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582096)

No, but there's one powered by Macs [google.ca] .

MOD PARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582173)

only on /. you see someone called penis fish modded up...
he's a troll and it's offtopic anyway

The grand grand grand grand grand son (1)

LePrince (604021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582066)

Of Jean-Luc Picard? :-)

Re:The grand grand grand grand grand son (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582088)

Grand grand grand grand grand father. It was Star Wars that happened a long, long time ago.

Re:The grand grand grand grand grand son (2, Insightful)

mmonkey (709004) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582163)

Given that TNG is set around 2380, wouldn't that be great great great great great great great great great great grand-father? :)

You say Picard, I say Piccard, . . (2, Informative)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582292)

Check out this dude here [centennialofflight.gov] and try and tell me the two aren't related.

Auguste Piccard was a Swiss while J-L Picard is a Scot actor playing a French dude. I am certain the Star Trek NG writers had in the back of their mind that A. Piccard was a famous explorer, and they wanted their J-L Picard to be more the Swiss Explorer than the Captain Cook-like J.T. Kirk. If they knew about A. Piccard, they may have changed the name and nationality to make it simpler for TV viewers.

Cook definitely was the inspiration for Kirk, both as an explorer and as a shoot-from-the-hip military man, while I think that J-L Picard was meant to be more science and less militarism. Remember, STNG was kind of like a Total Quality Management, Fan Focus Group, New and Improved Star Trek, and one of the criticisms of Star Trek was putting the captain in harms way all the time. Captain Cook put himself in harms way and was killed in a skirmish in Hawaii, but some dweeb critics thought the captain of the Enterprise was too important to get into hand-to-hand combat with aliens every other episode, so Picard was supposed to be kept safe by Worf, and Riker was supposed to tangle with the aliens and get beat up. But as episodes went on, we learned from Q that Picard had an artificial heart because he was more hot-headed than he let on, and by the time he has turned into Locutus, he was fighting aliens and proved to be a scrappier fighter than Kirk (or the time he single-handedly thwarted a hijacking of the Enterprise by terrorists when the crew was gone on leave in a thin ripoff of Stephen Segal's "Under Siege" -- while Navy Seal Segal was "only a cook" because he was busted in rank, Captain Picard was "only the barber" because I suppose with his shaved head that was real funny).

Re:You say Picard, I say Piccard, . . (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582558)

When Roddenberry was pitching the show to the networks, he said it was a "Horatio Hornblower in Space" type of show.

Re:No, the son of Jacques & grand-son of Augus (4, Informative)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582334)

Who is Jean-Luc Piccard anyway?

Bertrand is the son of Jacques and the grand-son of Auguste. See his biography [bertrandpiccard.com] .

"His grandfather, Auguste (1884-1962), [...invented] the principle of the pressurised cockpit and the stratospheric balloon. In making the first exploration of the stratosphere [...] in 1931, he [...] became the first man to see the curvature of the earth's surface with his own eyes."

"His father, Jacques, continued the work of Auguste [...] the world's deepest dive (-10916 metres in the Marianas Trench, the greatest known ocean depth)."

solar polar (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582067)

how high would you need to fly at what lattitude and at what time of year to get out of earth shadow?

Re:solar polar (2, Interesting)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582184)

how high would you need to fly at what lattitude and at what time of year to get out of earth shadow?

Any trig gurus please improve this for me:

Let T = radius of the earth
Let L = given angle of latitutde
Let X = "altitude" above the center of the earth to escape the earth's shadow
Let A = altitude above the earth's surface.

Now assume it is an equinox (thus the sun's rays are tangent to the earth at the poles), we want to find:

A

A = X - T since radii of a circle are equal
X = T * sec(L) X is our hypotenuse
thus
A = T * sec(L) - T
or perhaps more attractively:
T * (sec(L) - 1)

Something tells me there's a way to simplify that but I can't remember it.

For days other than an equinox, recalculate a new lattitude from the point of tangency of the Sun's rays to the earth and convert to standard lattitude

Disclaimer: this doesn't entirely work because the sun's rays are not parallel, but it should be pretty close.

Re:solar polar (1)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582219)

Whatever it is, it is going to be pretty darn high. The earth's atmopphere isn't very big, either. I don't know how to simplify (sec(L) - 1), but would if it was sec(L)^2

Re:solar polar (1)

anaphora (680342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582533)

You're thinking of tanx - secx = -1.

Re:solar polar (1)

anaphora (680342) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582549)

tan^2(x)-sec^2(x) = -1, sorry, I forgot slashdot doesn't support special characters. My squared didn't work.

Why? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582073)

Is there any scientific value to going around the world in a balloon, solar plane, or whatever? Or are these just things that wealthy people do to keep themselves occupied?

A bit of both (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582105)

Is there any scientific value to going around the world in a balloon

Is there any scientific value to space exploration?

I'm guessing that circumnavigation of Earth in a particular class of vehicle acts as a sort of proof of concept to the vehicle's operation. Engineers at transportation industry companies usually want to work with ideas that somebody else has tested in the field, and this is where the wealthy people's pastimes come in.

Re:A bit of both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582129)

Is there any scientific value to space exploration?
Yeah, loads. Now, scientific value to human spaceflight, you might have a point.

Re:Why? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582200)

Or are these just things that wealthy people do to keep themselves occupied?

What, you don't think that these people actually pay for the rescue mission to come get them when their bathtub sinks in the middle of the ocean, they get lost looking for Santa's workshop, or whatever.

They should be made to sign a "no extreme measures or rescue-tation attempts" paper before leaving.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

jester42 (623276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582234)

  • They should be made to sign a "no extreme measures or rescue-tation attempts" paper before leaving.
Right. I can't remember how often that guy had to be rescued with his balloon but i do remember that he needed a few tries and almost died more than once.

Any bets on how many tries it will take him this time?
To me, this is Jackass for rich people.

Re:Why? (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582606)

If it weren't for "crazy" people like this, we'd probably live in a very different world now. Consider for example Columbus, and then consider the entire "Great Voyages" that his example inspired. (Well, Asians and especially American Indians might disagree about that being a good thing...)

We've mostly run out of new places to explore without enormous cost of trying to do manned flights to other planets, so people like this are left with exploring the oceans and flying around the world in different contraptions.

But without people like this, "we" would still be living in caves in Africa or whatever...

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582683)

Hey, I have no problem with people trying stunts that seem crazy at the time--and dying because maybe it was crazy.

What I object to are the people that do some damned-fool stunt like travelling to the north pole by pogo-stick, then calling for help when they get snow in their boot. Suddenly a huge effort to save them is made at great expense and risk to other people. Launching a search and rescue effort shouldn't like calling the AAA. If you want to do something dangerous, do it. Or do not and die.

eco friendly? (4, Interesting)

A1tha1us (727848) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582086)

So after a few years of r&D half a dozen custom built protoypes (to be discarded as non-biodegradable junk) and other discarded parts they can have something that probably took more energy to make than a small town uses in a year, but then fly it around the world using only energy from the sun...I suppose it will be a cool engineering achievement.

Re:eco friendly? (2, Insightful)

zeux (129034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582222)

Solar cells are not efficient, we all know that. We know that it takes more energy to build them than they will ever produce in their lifetime.

But hey, this can be improved and to improve it researchers need funds. For researchers to get funds they have to make people understand that it's possible and that beautiful things could be achieved with solar cells. That's one of the purposes of this project.

Anyway, I still prefer that guy building an expensive plane in terms of energy than millions of people riding inefficient SUV in towns.

Re:eco friendly? (5, Insightful)

gobbo (567674) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582243)

So after a few years of r&D half a dozen custom built protoypes (to be discarded as non-biodegradable junk) and other discarded parts they can have something that probably took more energy to make than a small town uses in a year, but then fly it around the world using only energy from the sun...

A Proof of Concept product is always more costly. You can think of R&D costs not concentrated in a single product, but amortized across the series of product lines inspired by the new engineering, whether those costs are money or calories or a balance of available resources. The long-term savings (in all economic senses) represented by efficient design suggests a real bargain for global society.

The publicity stunt aspect of this is really a kind of marketing for sustainable tech in the long view.

Re:eco friendly? (0, Redundant)

jilles (20976) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582271)

It's a proof of concept. If it succeeds, evolved versions of the technology could very well end up saving money/energy.

Re:eco friendly? (5, Insightful)

Urkki (668283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582300)

Do you truly not see why developing solar energy technology to the level that makes this kind of plane possible is eco-friendly proejct, or are you just trying to troll?

And it's not just developing better solar cells to enhance current applications of solar energy.

Consider for example that if a lot of oribital satellites could be replaced with purely solar-powered autonomous planes that could stay up theoretically indefinitely. Just think how much "non-biodegradable junk" can this project produce to match the environmental impact of just a single space rocket launch...

Or imagine a hydrogen fuel-cell car that could partly refuel itself in a sunny parking lot during the workday, and could keep moving (slowly) even if you run out of fuel. Not much use in higher latitudes maybe, but imagine southern China, India and entire SE Asia with 2 billion cars like this instead of 2 billion cars using fossil fuels.

Was Biosphere 2 junk science? (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582411)

On the topic as to whether the solar plane is science or a stunt, some dude had a book on junk science where he included cold fusion and Biosphere 2 as junk science.

Now I am not trying to troll here as some of you may point to evidence for cold fusion. But Fleischmann and Pons certainly didn't help their cause by being sloppy with experimental control and calorimetry, so the way it played out it is fair to lable what happened as junk science.

I was suprised to see Biosphere 2 labled as junk science. Now there were junk science aspects to it in that the leader was said to be a kind of cult leader type, and if the goal was to have a self-sustained ecosystem, they should have worked their way using pilot models where they through animals in with some plants. They just threw the thing together, sealed themselves in, and when it didn't work, they didn't call the experiment off right away to retune, recalibrate, and try again.

But I am not sure if I would call building a Biosphere 2 and attempting to live in it junk science on the face of it -- the junk science dude thought it a development project at best and not real science. The junk science dude admitted that there was a scientific question regarding what it took to have a self-sustaining biosphere, and so far a self-sustaining biosphere has never been set up in a lab while such a think occurs on the surface of our planet. It is an important question: what kind of anthropomorphic or natural stresses on Earth's biosphere could wreck it, could you build a microcosm biosphere for long duration space travel, could you build one on a space colony, could you terraform Mars or Venus? How big does a biosphere have to be to work?

I guess the criticism was that it was junk science to just stick a bunch of plants, people, animals, and soils in a sealed greenhouse and hope for the best. I don't think it was junk science to build a Biosphere 2 as a proof of concept if you knew what you were doing.

So a solar round-the world plane may be just development engineering, but it may lead to solar aerial platforms, but MacReady is already doing robotic long-duration solar plains. Maybe a human payload is proof of concept of large payload capability, or maybe the Piccard guy needs something to do.

Mitternacht (-1)

The Lyrics Guy (539223) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582090)

E Nomine - Mitternacht

Wenn die Gondeln Trauer tragen
und es hallt der toten Klagen
tief im Nacken das Grauen sitzt

Wenn die Uhr beginnt zu schlagen
kalte, dichte Nebelschwaden
beruhr'n dich sacht ... ... Mitternacht !

Gefriert das Blut dir in den Adern
Schnurt dir Angst die Kehle zu
Horst du dein Herz und die Glocken schlagen
ist es Nacht ... ... Mitternacht !

Loca in ferna in nocte
Loca in ferna in nocte
Animae in nebula ... Mitternacht !

Media nox obscura nox
crudelitas animarum
campana sonat
duo decies

loca ... in ferna in nocte ....
anima in nebulaaaahhhh ...

media nox obscura nox
crudelitas animarum
media nox, media nox

Power storage (4, Insightful)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582098)

So, assuming he has clear skies for most of that trip, no problem. However, if he hits "inclement weather," how much energy does that plane store up before it runs out of juice? Or can it be assumed he will be above the cloud cover for the whole trip? And, is it assumed the trip is continuous or will he be able to stop at "jump points" (this makes more sense for obvious reasons). If he can stop even briefly, this idea becomes a lot more feasible.

Re:Power storage (4, Interesting)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582153)

I was wondering that too. I'd assume that the plane would essentially be a glider and would use the solar power to provide lift as required and thrust only if sufficient spare energy was available. I'd also assume any onboard batteries would be fully charged at takeoff too to give things a head start.

Even so, doing this in one hop seems a little unlikely, unless circumnavigation near the pole in summer is in order, and it's not in my book! Ignoring the tilt of the Earth, then taking off at dawn and flying west to maximise the amount of daylight would require a circumnavigation within 36 hours before night would fall. That's in the region of an average speed of 1,000mph. Fully charged batteries at takeoff, flying on battery through pre-dawn and recharging through the day and finishing off on battery at night would reduce that some, but enough for one hop?

Re:Power storage (3, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582190)

Ah ha! Found the relevent paragraph of the website! They do indeed expect to stay aloft overnight, several in fact, which means enough power stored in batteries to keep the aircraft aloft during the shorter summer nights. I can't see any mention on whether they plan on gliding and using the propellers as required or not though.

Re:Power storage (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582662)

That's in the region of an average speed of 1,000mph.

Considerably less. The Earth has a circumfrance at the equator of slightly under 40,000km, While the course won't be a straight line, and will probably follow jet streams and avoid certain countries, it shouldn't be more then 50,000km, meaning an average speed of 860mph. If the course is a straight line then an average speed of just under 700mph will suffice.

Re:Power storage (4, Informative)

Coelacanth (323321) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582158)


An aircraft of this type will certainly be cruising above the clouds, and will be steering well clear of any convective activity (thunderstorms) for safety reasons. The real power storage challenge is to get through the night.

This is the reason you don't see all that many solar-powered UAVs, never mind piloted aircraft. The economics of solar flight would change radically if battery technology improved.

Re:Power storage (3, Informative)

Daoenti (552606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582182)

By looking at the site it appears as if they would be doing it non-stop. The following is from their list of objectives:
# Complete night in the air during the first 36 hour solar flight in June 2007;
# First flight tests of the second prototype from end 2007;
# Solar flights lasting several days from start of 2009.
With a 36 hour solar flight in June 2007 and then a several day flight in 2009 (plus all of the other information actually on the site) it would seem like a safe assumption that they are trying to make it a non-stop flight.

Re:Power storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582291)

The page talked about the project aiming to recreate the history of flying only this time using totaly renewable fuel, for this reason I would think they would first go around the world in the solar aircraft in the same fashion as Amelia Earhart. Hopefully they wont fall into the pacific... Then maybe they'll develop the technology enough that they can store enough energy to fly overnight and have solar cells powerful enough to replenish batteries after they've been spent.

Easy (2, Funny)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582100)

All he needs is a really big bungee cord...

TRULY A WASTE (-1, Troll)

A Proud American (657806) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582101)

I work for Merck, and we value life and saving the lives of those who cannot help themselves.

Instead, people like this spend MILLIONS on flying and other assorted games. I'm not saying that we all should be doctors or research or whatever, but shouldn't people use their time and money in ways that are better for ALL OF MANKIND?

I know that it's capitalism, and people make what they deserve and should be able to spend it on what they want, but couldn't like a measly amount (10%) of their savings and time be spent on helping others?

It's CHRISTMAS for Christ's sake!

Re:TRULY A WASTE (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582125)

I work for Merck, and we value life and saving the lives of those who cannot help themselves.

Tell Khaled i said hi, and thanks for ruining irc.

Re:TRULY A WASTE (0, Offtopic)

sjwt (161428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582308)

Its called tax,
it allready happens.

Also, spending monney is good,
leting it sit in your matress at
home is bad.

Re:TRULY A WASTE (1)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582382)

Saving is also good.
spent money == income for firm
saved money (in bank) == invetment money for firm

Which is better?

Re:TRULY A WASTE (1)

sjwt (161428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582479)

too much saving = ressesion and loss of jobs
spending = money gose around and around and creates jobs.

mind you that might just be me and my growing up in the 80's and the "ression we had to have", thats in .AU that is.

Re:TRULY A WASTE (1)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582532)

true, but
too much spending == too little saving == only firms with income can invest

Re:TRULY A WASTE (3, Interesting)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582373)

The point of this kind of research is to improve technology. The result is more efficient solar cells and batteries, the kind of tech which will improve thousands of things.

Its not just some guy with loads of money who thinks it would be cool to fly around the world, it is serious research into several important fields. The kind of research that without rich enthusiasts wouldn't get done.

I agree that people should be more willing to spread the wealth, which is why I applaud the "give so much a month" approach charities use, and wish more people would do it. Who would notice 10 pounds a month missing from their salary of thousands? If everyone gave an amount they could afford without even noticing then a hell of a lot of people could be helped.

Re:TRULY A WASTE (1)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582394)

If everyone gave an amount they could afford without even noticing

It's called 'withheld income tax'.

Link (0)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582104)

a link without the stupid animation here [solar-impulse.com]

Obligatory... (2, Funny)

MoeMoe (659154) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582108)

Obliugatory Piccard joke.....



Piccard: To boldy go, where no ma- (turbulence) Number 1, why are we rapidly descending?

Riker: It seems to be a solar eclipse sir

Piccard: All hands embrace for impact!

Re:Obligatory... (2, Informative)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582154)

According to the wikipedia, Jean-luc Picard was named after Dr. Jean Piccard [wikipedia.org] , another balloonist!

Re:Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582180)

don't wanna hwore...

Damn dude... talk about living history ;)

Re:Obligatory... (1)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582489)

According to the wikipedia, Jean-luc Picard was named after Dr. Jean Piccard, another balloonist!

Jean Piccard is also Betrand Piccard's grandfather.

Glider (5, Interesting)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582124)

People can stay in the air for several days in a glider. They use upward currents to gain height. You know, fly over a desert in the day, and over a forest at night.

Get off the cross (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582146)

We need the wood.

Spare me the "any mention of ecology gets a lukewarm response from the public because their comfortable existence is threatened".

The problem with many so-called 'ecologists' is that they frame everything in terms of 'saving the Planet'. Here's a clue - the Planet will survive long after we're all dead. The Earth will be there when the sun becomes a red giant and eats it. We shouldn't save the Planet, we should save ourselves. Does the Earth 'care' if biodiversity diminishes due to pollution? Does the Earth 'care' if the light pollution causes algae disruptions in the Great Lakes? No. but we should.

This project is great at raising visibility and research focus in the fields of energy capture, storage and motor design, but these folks aren't the Messaihs.

Re:Get off the cross (2, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582171)

I bet we could exterminate most nn-human life if we really tried. Or if we let factories spew out pollution at any rate they please (which would be a cheaper way to do it). How would you like to breathe smog, instead of air? Granted, though, the *planet* won't die, but what we care about are living things.

We're not alone... (4, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582276)

Perhaps we have a right to wipe humanity of the face of the planet, perhaps we don't. But I don't see how we have a right to wipe out all the countless other species and to poison the earth, sky and the seas.

To use a famous quote, this is a beautiful planet, it's a miracle and we're destroying it.

(Cue a dozen posts from people who think environmental awareness is for only for hippies high as a kite.)

Re:We're not alone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582316)

Because we can.

Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582317)

But I don't see how we have a right to wipe out all the countless other species and to poison the earth, sky and the seas.

Because God said: Eat up!

How do you like your whale prepared?

Re:We're not alone... (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582388)

No, it's ok. After we destory humanity, apes will rule the planet [imdb.com] . Really.

Re:We're not alone... (1)

JoeBaldwin (727345) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582560)

But I don't see how we have a right to wipe out all the countless other species and to poison the earth, sky and the seas.


Fine, you're more normal than us-what do you want, a paper hat?

Re:We're not alone... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582567)

We aren't going to "wipe out all the countless other species" out there. I seriously doubt we could do it, even if we tried, at this point.

We'll kill some, but we'll also create new environmental niches for other species to evolve to fill. The various rodents, and pets, and farm animals that have evolved and prospered in symbiosis with man may not be "exotic" enough to satisfy those high as a kite hippies you mentioned, but they are no less alive or a part of this world's environment.

What one being sees as "poison(ing) the earth, sky and the seas" is just the opening of new ecological niches.
The last time there was a truely large scale "poison(ing) (of) the earth, sky and the seas" was when plants first flooded the world with harsh burning oxygen, killing all sorts of anaerobic life, and giving birth to aerobic life and animals as we know them. I trust you don't see that as having been a bad thing?

Whatever nasty reactive chemicals we spew into the environment are likely to become the food of tomorrow's most feccund life.
Our nuclear waste and depleted ozone will generate mutations, and spur new evolution to fill those niches we're creating.

We won't, we can't, destroy the planet; but we will change it.
If you're so small minded that you have to classify everything that evolved before man as 'a good ecosystem' and everything that evolved after we became dominant as 'a bad ecosystem', then you're missing a whole lot of the beauty of this planet's life.

Re:Get off the cross (2, Interesting)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582351)

The problem with many so-called 'ecologists' is that they frame everything in terms of 'saving the Planet'.
No, the problem with many so-called ecologists is that they frame everything in terms of threats to 'our comfortable existence'. They wrongly believe that it 'has to hurt if it's to heal', and translate every ecological problem, not just global warming but local small scale problems as well, into something that can, will and should have an enormous impact on our everyday lives. They do not believe in simple and painless solutions.

Re:Get off the cross (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582669)

Interesting that the most liberal would share a common trait with the most conservative, the idea that "if it feels good, it must be bad".

Re:Get off the cross (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582487)

Don't be so literal.

Save the planet means save the lifeforms on the planet; save the beauty of the planet; keep it all the same so our grandkids can enjoy a walk on the beach and a trip through the woods.

Not saving the planet is trashing it in small ways by throwing a soda can down in a forest or large ways by nations using the oceans as a sewer.

Not saving the planet is letting lots of species die out - faster than evolution can replace them.

New York trash including needles washed up on New Jersey beaches a while back. Soviet built reactors blew up making milk unfit to drink from Norway to China for a few months. Car caused air pollution makes it harder for me to breathe some days.

Slogans that work are better than slogans that are technically more accurate.

So help save the planet and be a hero!

You first (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582590)

Save the planet means .. keep it all the same ...

You lose. Nothing stays the same.

So help save the planet and be a hero!

You first. You could start by not reproducing, and killing yourself, because you're using stuff up. The basic problem here is that there are TOO DAMN MANY PEOPLE. Stop sweating the small stuff and address the underlying problem.

Not saving the planet is letting lots of species die out - faster than evolution can replace them.

"Lots" is kind of vague, but I don't have a knee jerk reaction to "letting" species die out. I don't think we're better off with tsetse flies than without them. I don't think the cities and suburbs are better off allowing coyotes to repopulate and kill off all the domestic cats. Do you think it's a good idea having venomous snakes in those woods you want your grandkids to enjoy walking through? Do you have a problem with dinosaurs being gone?

Re:You first (1)

Nahor (41537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582636)

The basic problem here is that there are TOO DAMN MANY PEOPLE. Stop sweating the small stuff and address the underlying problem.

Don't worry, AIDS in on its way.

Re:Get off the cross (2, Insightful)

gobbo (567674) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582555)

Here's a clue - the Planet will survive long after we're all dead. The Earth will be there when the sun becomes a red giant and eats it. We shouldn't save the Planet, we should save ourselves. Does the Earth 'care' if biodiversity diminishes due to pollution? Does the Earth 'care' if the light pollution causes algae disruptions in the Great Lakes? No. but we should.

That's a very humanistic position, which suggests that homo sapiens' mental capabilities separate us from the rest of the planet. You're saying that the whole enterprise of linking human destiny with the ecological structure of Gaia [fsbusiness.co.uk] [or whatever name you give the "vast, self regulating system [umass.edu] " that we live inside of] is annoying to you, as it diminishes us and is out of touch with the people.

Here's a clue: people saying 'save the planet' are doing several things: 1) referring to the ecosphere as it is, not just a playground for hominids, 2) pointing out that ecology is an interconnected web with unforseen dependencies, 3) pointing out that our survival as a species may depend on us curbing our global practice of extinction, 4) stating that our humanistic rise above our environment's demands is a liability when it comes to understanding all that, so humanism needs adjustment.

Better to die on my feet than live on my knees, as the saying goes, and for those connected to a natural environment, a diminished ecosphere is an oppression. In many senses, saving the planet = saving ourselves.

Re:Get off the cross (1)

Nahor (41537) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582617)

Yeah, let's invent the matrix. Then, who cares about the Planet as long as virtual reality satisfies our mind and the machines satify our body needs.

And we are a lot better than all those plants and animals. As long as we survive, who cares about those pesky things.

Everyone asking 'can it fly at night' (5, Informative)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582151)


If you had clicked the article link, you'd see a picture of it flying at dusk, right on the front page!.

Also from the press release [solar-impulse.com]

The Solar Impulse aircraft will have an extremely long wingspan, advanced aerodynamics, and a revolutionary structure in order to capture and store sufficient solar energy during the day and to be able to maintain itself in flight during the night.

Re:Everyone asking 'can it fly at night' (5, Interesting)

Robert Osfield (703947) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582282)

My guess is that they will probably climb during the day and charge batteries then glide all night with a small power draw to the batteries extending the glide. If they can climb enough during the day then they might not need to use batteries, and just glide until the morning. It should be possible to build such a machine with less than 100ft/min sink rate, perhaps even 50ft/min. Thanks 3000-6000 ft lost per hour, 8 hours is 24000-48000ft height loss. Manned flight makes this more complicated though with needing oxygen and heating the pilot at high altitudes.

Re:Everyone asking 'can it fly at night' (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582464)

Another observation; assuming you are heading West, which seems more logical to me, then the faster you fly during the day (under solar power) the longer time you have in daylight. At night though, it may be better to fly *slower* so that the sun catches up with you faster and you can regain solar power sooner. You could even *backtrack*, flying back East on battery to help shorten the periods of darkness!

not going to happen??? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582160)

and you run and you run to catch up with the sun but its sinking, only to come up behind you again...

Flying backwards to meet the dawn (3, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582185)

I would assume that the pilot would fly a zigziag course. During the day, they would fly westward to stay in the sun as long as possible. During the night, they would fly eastward to meet the dawn as soon as possible.

I also wonder if they might choose a route that flies over the upwelling of air at the equatorial convergence zone. It might be rough, but those air currents could help them stay aloft during the night.

Re:Flying backwards to meet the dawn (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582229)

Bob: "How come we're not getting anywhere?"
Phil: "Cos the flight plan has us doing a one-eighty every sunrise and sunset."
Bob: "Oh?"
Phil: "Yeah, more cold coffee please."

That's not cool (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582217)

They should go around the world in a solar-powered submarine.

FBI (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582261)

Fucking Bastards Incorporated.

They're eating at McDonalds.

here's the science bit (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582319)

well ive already mentioned the factors involved in earth shadow. now we must consider the energy requirements and aerodynamics.

solar energy 1.4KW m^2 outside earth atmosphere.

atmospheric radiation dissipation due to various phenomena in clear sky conditions below tropopause 0.11KW/KM

so we should have 03KWm^2 of top surface area.

we can throw in some basic guestimates that the wing area will be ~= 20m^2. a moderate flying speed of around 200knots. and NACA aerofoil efficiency of around 0.83.

now taking the STP at flight level 50 of 700hectopascals and an average rho value into rayleighs formula average viscosity constants,
a drag of 420N/m^2

to achieve 200knots a thrust force of around 840Kg/s would be required.

it can be seen that it is fairly easy to achieve solar powered flight.

although i have no idea how efficient modern galium arsenide solar cells are?

Remember Helios? (5, Interesting)

adun (127187) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582327)

NASA's little darling solar plane flew at about 90,000 feet, well above any potential cloud cover. You can assume that these guys are planning on the same strategy. But if you plan to send a manned flight up to 90k feet, doesn't that raise a whole slew of logistics questions? i.e., the amount of oxygen needed, the weight ratios to follow, etc...

I can just imagine the TV ads for this... (2, Funny)

agentforsythe (696066) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582385)

soundtrack: "don't let the sun go down on me" by Elton John

Re:I can just imagine the TV ads for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582565)

I thought he was saying "don't let your son go down on me".

Seemed appropriate coming from him...

I doubt the cleverness of this! (0, Redundant)

AmoebafromSweden (112178) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582416)

What is he going to do if the sun go out?

Boy he'll look dumb then.

Re:I doubt the cleverness of this! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7582551)

Wow are you dumb!
If the sun goes out he'll just use the moon!!

Paul MacCready (3, Informative)

airuck (300354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582494)

Those interested in efficient flight should read about Paul MacCready (and many others) who have been involved in the American human/solar powered flight movement: More with Less: Paul MacCready and the Dream of Efficient Flight [amazon.com] .

A better link, explaining the technology (4, Informative)

rduke15 (721841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582507)

The EPFL explains much more about the technological aspects. It's in French of course: here [www.epfl.ch] .

But for those who cannot read :-), they also have nice pictures [images-sol...se.epfl.ch]

One technological aspect is that by flying very high, they can take advantage of the cold (-55C), which can improve efficiency of electro-magnetic motors.

There are other interesting bits. I guess the page will be translated in English in a few days. (Forget computer translations, unless you want a cheap laugh)

Consumables are the problem (2, Informative)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582644)

The Helios Solar Airplane [pvresources.com] probably could have flown around the world. But with a cruising speed of only about 40 km/hr it would have taken 1000 hours (41 days). Such a long duration flight is fine for an unmanned aircraft, but poses severe challenges for manned flight. Carrying weeks worth of food, water, and oxygen represents additional payload that such a vehicle can ill afford. Onboard recycling/extraction systems could reduce the need for consumables, but they add weight also.

But without a person in the cockpit, the venture won't get much media attention. And without media attention, the project won't attract much sponsorship. ..... SIGH!

Consequences of using solar power? (2, Funny)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582657)

Right now, using solar power sounds like a good idea. It's a renewable and non polluting source of energy.

But if we have learned anything about excessive energy use from the past, we should proceed with caution. What will happen when the whole world is powered by solar power? Think of it, all this energy from the sun that would normally heat the earth would now go towards generating electricity. This would probably lead to a global chilling which is not a good thing.

I think we should either stay dependant on fossil fuels for now, or even increase our consumption of them to counter the effects of global chilling in the future with more global warming now.

Thank Burt Rutan for this; (2, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 10 years ago | (#7582661)

December 1986 this was done with fuel [centennialofflight.gov]
Why can't this now be done with solar cells and high-density batteries?

I would have more faith in this project if it was being done by somebody else.

Stay aloft for weeks at a time? sure why not. Just expand on this idea [air-attack.com]

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