Record-breaking Perlan 2 glider soars ever closer to the edge of space


The Perlan 2 glider in action during a record-breaking flight last week.

Airbus’ Perlan 2 glider is continuing to push the limits of engineless flight, hitting a succession of record altitudes throughout the last week, culminating in a unprecedented 76,000-ft (23,000-m) climb on Sunday.

The overarching objective of the Perlan project is to harness what are known as stratospheric mountain waves to soar upwards to the edge of space without using an engine. These powerful airstreams are created when winds collide with tall mountain ranges and are diverted upwards.

The Perlan 2 engineless glider is built to leverage these waves with an ultralight construction that tips the scales at just 1,100 lb (500 kg) when empty, and a generous wingspan of 84 ft (27 m). Following its maiden flight in Oregon in 2015, when it reached an altitude of 5,000 ft (1,524 m) after being released from its towplane, the team promptly set its sights on far, far greater heights.

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Ozone Levels Over the Arctic Dropped By Half in the Past Year

arctic ozone

Much more ozone (in red) is shown over the Arctic in the left image than the right image.

Check out the stark difference between these two satellite images, taken on March 19, 2010 and March 19, 2011. The left image shows much more ozone (in red) over the Arctic than the right image. What’s happened?


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SolarEagle – Unmanned Solar Plane Will Fly Uninterrupted for Five Years



It seems like a dream! Please can anyone pinch me? Ok, it really isn’t the dream, as Boeing has won an $89 million government contract to build and fly unmanned solar-powered plane that can stay in the air for uninterrupted five years. At first, I kept reading it hours and not years, as I didn’t want to believe it, but then I guess my regression doesn’t work anymore. The aircraft is called SolarEagle and is a part of Vulture II program, which is run by U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This unmanned solar plane will be demoed in 2014 and it will be an electronic sensor and military communications platform. In the testing phase SolarEagle will stay in the upper atmosphere for 30 days and it will use electric motors and propellers to fly on the solar energy collected during the day.
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Electrolux Design Labs 2008 Competition


Famed vacuum-cleaner maker Electrolux shows it doesn’t suck as much as you think by putting on a design competition every year. This year’s nine Design Lab ’08 finalists have outdone those from the past, with students inventing and designing a variety of ambitious devices that might make your quality of life better – if they’re ever actually manufactured. See an overview of the amazing gadgets in the video above.

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