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The Military Transportation Science Technology

Zephyr Solar Plane Tops 7 Days Aloft 51

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-jetfuel-for-me-yet dept.
chichilalescu writes "The UK-built Zephyr solar-powered plane has smashed the endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle. The craft took off from the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 1440 BST (0640 local time) last Friday and is still in the air. Maybe we can attach some netbooks, and extend the Internet to the clouds."
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Zephyr Solar Plane Tops 7 Days Aloft

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  • Re:odd asymmetry (Score:4, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @05:40AM (#32935790) Homepage Journal

    why is one wing shaped differently than the other, i wonder..

    You're right, there is a noticeable extra piece of wing on the right (looking from the rear)

    The left wing appears to have an extension on the wing tip with negative dihedral: it points down. The guy on the right appears to be holding the tip extension, perhaps because they are assembling the aircraft.

  • The applications! (Score:3, Informative)

    by arielCo (995647) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @08:29AM (#32936214)

    Its project manager, Jon Saltmarsh, said Zephyr would be brought down once it had flown non-stop for a fortnight.

    "Zephyr is basically the first 'eternal aircraft'," he told BBC News.

    Which makes for a decent observation plane, mostly for disaster-area surveillance (dunno military apps, though). QinetiQ seems to agree:

    Potential applications for Zephyr include earth observation and communications relay.

    I remember reading on ./ that the Nasa Pathfinder [wikipedia.org] concept is comparable to a very-low-orbit satellite for practical purposes, even advancing the possibilities in Martian exploration.

  • Physical limitations (Score:4, Informative)

    by mangu (126918) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @09:09AM (#32936352)

    As solar panel technology gets better, so will the capabilities and usefulness of such projects in real life

    The problem is that you are limited by the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth. Even with solar panel efficiency at 100% you would only have about one kilowatt/square meter.

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