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Researchers aboard the world’s largest solar-powered boat will begin taking samples and measurements from the Gulf Stream this week.
Planet Solar docked in Miami June 1 after crossing the Atlantic, for the second time in its life, using nothing but the sun to power it across the waves. While the catamaran’s first journey around the world in 2011 was designed to showcase the advanced ability of solar photovoltaic panels to propel a ship, this adventure is organized around a University of Geneva research team that’s studying the Gulf Stream.
Lead researcher, professor Martin Beniston said the boat is the ideal vessel for the team because it will not contaminate water samples with any residue from fuel combustion.
“Up to this point, we were in transit in a sense,” said Gerard d’Aboville, captain of the boat. “In a few days we will begin this scientific expedition—the raison d’être of our trip-and life onboard will be organized entirely around the measurements that the University of Geneva researchers will carry out.”
The team will spend the summer through the month of August traveling 8,000 kilometers along the Gulf Stream between Miami and Bergan, Norway collecting samples.
“The entire crew is highly motivated and is getting involved in the final assemblage of the measurement instruments,” said d’Aboville.
The research will carry the solar boat along the East Coast of the U.S. and it will make stopovers in New York and Boston, offering introductions to the boat and its unique abilities.
During its time in Miami, the Planet Solar crew is offering tours and demonstrations of the boat.
“This Miami stopover is also the first opportunity to demonstrate to Americans the practical applications of a ship propelled uniquely by photovoltaic energy,” according to a release from the Planet Solar support team.
While the Planet Solar crew spent more than a year traveling from port to port in a solitary effort to demonstrate the power of solar energy to the world on its first trip, there will be fewer opportunities this time around for that mission.
However, some retooling of the boat during its down time over the winter has resulted in faster speeds and the ability to travel farther distances on stored power, which means Turanor Planet Solar is breaking its own speed records for travel by solar-powered boat this time around.
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