Power from the sun, flying in the night

Solar Impulse 2, the solar airplane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Andre Borschberg, flies over Manhattan on Saturday, shortly before landing at John F. Kennedy airport. Leg 14 was the shortest so far on the plane's trip around the globe.

To date, the Solar Impulse 2 has flown 30,000km since leaving from Abu Dhabi in March last year. The single-seater has made stops in many cities including Mandalay, Nanjing, Nagoya and Hawaii.

The aircraft is made of carbon fibre and has 17,248 solar cells built into its wing. These solar cells supply renewable energy to the aircraft, recharging four lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for night flying. The Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan similar to that of a Boeing 747 plane in order to accommodate the solar cells. However, it weighs just 2.3tonnes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Power from the sun, flying in the night'. Print Edition | Subscribe