Boeing Aurora Flight Services recently announced their high-altitude pseudo-satellite called Odysseus. This autonomous aircraft is the most capable solar-powered vessel. It is an ultra-long endurance high-altitude platform having a mix of highly advanced solar cells and very lightweight materials that allow it to fly for an indefinite period as it is powered by the sun. Odysseus also has the largest payload capacity of all in the solar aviation today.
The plans for Odysseus begin when, in 1988, President and CEO of Aurora, John Langford, along with his colleagues from MIT, broke the world record for longest human-powered flight in the distance by flying between Greek island of Crete and Santorini. This 72-mile trip still holds the record. President and CEO of Aurora said, “Aurora was founded by the idea that technology and innovation can provide powerful solutions to tough problems that affect all of humankind. Odysseus was an idea born out of Daedalus that is now a real solution to advancing the important research around climate change and other atmospheric chemistry problems. Odysseus offers persistence like no other solar aircraft of its kind, which is why it is such a capable and necessary platform for researchers. Odysseus will indeed change the world.”
Odysseus has some fantastic and groundbreaking capabilities. Like, it is the only solar-powered plane which can autonomously remain at a single spot making communications and data gathering over the area possible. The flight can operate at a way more higher altitude than weather or other aircrafts enabling it to cover the more geographic area. It is also highly configurable making it possible to be adaptive to the mission requirements and technological advancements. All these and many more features make Odysseus the ideal plane for climate and weather researchers as it can measure crucial and complicated factors like vegetation, ice coverage, and ground moisture.
It even can track the movements of severe weather anomalies. The aircraft is not limited to just weather and climate research. It can accommodate the equipment and perform the operations for communications, connectivity and intelligence, and all of that with zero emissions. Odysseus will embark on its maiden journey in the spring of 2019, opening many opportunities of use for itself.