Sunlight Eagle : an unmanned solar airplane

"Sunlight Eagle" is the unmanned aircraft powered by solar power. It has just successfully completed a first series of tests.

The aircraft has a wingspan of 35 m, with a weight of 75 kg. Tested by the University of New Mexico, Sunlight Eagle "has successfully completed its initial flight," said project director, Robyn Allen.

"The first objective was to gather data on the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft to determine the impact of solar cells. The second to prove that it is possible to fly an airplane scale, experimental, in within the national airspace, rather than space. "

The Sunlight Eagle is a derivative of a device developed by the MIT Light Eagle. It served as a prototype for another model, this one piloted the Daedalus aircraft. The Light Eagle holds four world records, with driver, and the Daedalus holds two.

Between Light Eagle and its sun, a number of changes were made, starting with the solar cells installed on the upper surface of the device, which turn a propeller 3.5 m in diameter. The aircraft was equipped with a battery, to fly at night and under clouds.

The next step will be to prepare the aircraft to fly longer at higher altitudes. This will require improved control system and install an emergency parachute, to recover the aircraft without damage if a problem occurs.

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