Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered airplane, finished its historic trip around the world, which started back in March 2015. The plane landed in Abu Dhabi early Tuesday.
André Borschberg (left) and Bertrand Piccard (right) celebrate after Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi, completing an historic trip around the world.Photo credit: Solar Impulse, Flickr
Solar Impulse traveled around the world, breaking the journey down into 17 legs, spending a total of 23 days in the air. The plane, powered by 17,000 solar cells, traveled 42,000 kilometers (about 26,100 miles) in a little more than a year. Its trip across the Atlantic Ocean from New York City to Seville, Spain, alone took approximately 90 hours to complete, traveling at 140 km/h (about 87 mph). The plane's longest trip was from Japan to Hawaii, which lasted almost five days.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg alternated piloting the solar-powered plane. On the ground, they were helped by a team of 30 engineers, 25 technicians and 22 navigation controllers.
BREAKING: we flew 40'000km without fuel. It's a first for energy, take it further! #futureisclean https://t.co/JCvKTDBVZx— SOLAR IMPULSE (@SOLAR IMPULSE)1469493867.0
After landing in Abu Dhabi, Piccard called the journey not only an achievement for the history of aviation, but a success for the history of energy. The pilots hope their journey promotes investment in clean energy.
"If we want a good quality of life today, we have to turn to clean technology and renewable energies," Piccard said.
"If governments had the courage to promote clean technologies on a massive scale, our society could simultaneously reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, create jobs and stimulate sustainable growth."
Piccard and Borschberg never had a shortage of views during their trip. Solar Impulse 2 was subject to amazing views, clean energy innovations and some of the world's most challenging problems, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Relive the best photos from @solarimpulse 2's round-the-world trip https://t.co/eOrWe9vf9t https://t.co/Gaq847kJ98— Wired UK (@Wired UK)1469531383.0
It took 13 years to achieve Solar Impulse's historic journey, but now the group is moving on to other projects such as establishing the International Committee of Clean Technology (ICCT). Piccard and Borschberg created the ICCT to "continue the legacy Solar Impulse started, promoting concrete energy efficient solutions in order to solve many of the challenges facing society today."
Already 400 organizations have joined forces to help the ICCT achieve its goals. Notable patrons include H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Richard Branson and Kofi Annan, who have already dedicated their work to the environment and clean energy sources. Patrons will advise governments and corporations on how to use clean technology.
"The International Committee of Clean Technologies is a fantastic opportunity to bring together a group of experts, with diverse experiences and backgrounds, to speak in one voice and leverage the efforts needed to bring change and influence global decision makers in the areas of clean technologies and renewable energy," Borschberg said.
Solar Impulse successfully lands in Abu Dhabi with Bertrand Piccard at the controls.Photo credit: Solar Impulse, Flickr
On July 11, Borschberg also predicted the world will soon see solar drones in the stratosphere, inspired by Solar Impulse's achievements.
"Solar Impulse is of course very well positioned to contribute to the next generation of unmanned solar airplanes," he said. "When considering technological progress today, these unmanned aircrafts will be able to fly much higher than they can today, avoiding air traffic and bad weather. They will be able to fly in extremely low air density and remain in the air both day and night, essentially taking over the need for satellites in a cheaper and more sustainable way. Parallel to SpaceX and Blue Origin, they could be brought down from the stratosphere to perform repairs and upgrades."
Borschberg mentioned that Solar Impulse may take flight again in different parts of the world to spread its message about clean technology.
The Solar Impulse team in Abu Dhabi after a successful landing, ending an historic trip around the world.Photo credit: Solar Impulse, Flickr
But for now, the pilots can revel in their completion of an historic trip around the world.
After the plane's stop in Cairo, it will make its way back to Abu Dhabi to complete its trip around the world. André Borschberg is piloting this leg of the flight, which took off from Seville at 4:20 a.m. local time (11:30 p.m. on July 10 EDT).
Sun-powered #innovation on land & in the air! #SolarImpulse meets @Masdar 's 1st #CSP plant of its kind, #GemaSolar. https://t.co/ZxrEk8R6hh— SOLAR IMPULSE (@SOLAR IMPULSE)1468238859.0
The 20-megawatt plant is the world's first utility-scale solar power plant to produce reliable energy for 24 hours a day. The plant, Masdar said, contains molten salt storage technology enabling it to generate electricity for 15 hours without solar irradiance electricity.
"A key misconception about solar energy is that it is only viable during daylight hours," Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said. "Yet we have just witnessed a solar-powered aircraft capable of flying day and night soar directly over the first plant of its kind to produce reliable electricity day and night. This moment is a powerful symbol of the potential of solar energy and clean technologies to power a sustainable future, whether or not the sun is shining."
The Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant covers 185 hectares and generates 110 gigawatt hours per year. Energy produced by the plant is capable of powering 25,000 homes. The plant also offsets up to 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
World’s First 24/7 #SolarPower Plant Powers 75,000 Homes https://t.co/qdbaI2dLtg @SolarReserve— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1466442864.0
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.