Solar-powered aircraft will try to circle the globe

A solar-powered aircraft is to retrace some of aviation’s greatest exploits, including a transatlantic crossing, before attempting a circumnavigation of the world.

The Solar Impulse – which will be piloted by the round-the-world balloon pioneer Bertrand Piccard when it takes to the air next year – is to be tested this week with an attempt at circumnavigating virtual skies.

A sophisticated real-time virtual flight in five legs will take a computer model of the aircraft through simulated conditions modelled on real weather data.

“We have no idea if the virtual flight will be a success or not. We’re dealing with real conditions, so it may be a failure,” Mr Piccard said.

Like the real Solar Impulse, the Swiss-based team will try to ensure that the virtual machine has maximum exposure to the Sun to charge its batteries and to guide it around bad weather.

Source:  Times

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