Find out more about how the solar plane works and how the expedition is going. Here's an excerpt:
This June, a French pilot will attempt the first zero-carbon flight across the Atlantic Ocean. His trusty steed, The Eraole, is a lightweight hybrid airplane is powered by solar energy and algal biofuels made specifically for this journey. The pilot, Raphaël Dinelli, is a French scientist and adventurer who is no stranger to feats of endurance. He's a four-time winner of the Vendée Globe race, in which competitors sail solo around the world.
For this newest escapade, Dinelli will be behind the yoke of a glider-like airplane equipped with photovoltaic panels on it wings. The energy of our nearest star will be providing 25 percent of the energy requirements for the trans-Atlantic voyage. Another 55 percent comes from the aforementioned algal biofuels. Nature will take care of the rest, as the remaining 20 percent of the energy needed for 60-hour aerial journey from North America to France will come from riding the wind currents high above the sea.
Not to be outdone, the Solar Impulse 2 has already begun an even more daunting solar-powered journey: a 100-percent solar-powered trip around the world. Two Swiss pilots – psychiatrist and balloonist Bertrand Piccard, as well as businessman and fighter pilot André Borschberg – are sharing the duties behind the yoke as they skip from location to location around the globe, beginning and ending in Abu Dhabi.