The world’s largest solar-powered boat just landed in London yesterday after leaving Oostende, Belgium just a day prior. The arrival of the PlanetSolar MS Tûranor in the Thames for the first time ever marks the end of the boat's “deepwater” scientific campaign to collect physical and biological measurements along the Gulf Stream. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) are already eagerly analyzing the data to better understand the interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere.
Earlier this June, the transatlantic speed record-holding solar catamaran was converted into a scientific platform to collect data between on the Gulf Stream between Oostende and London. The researchers say that the Tûranor PlanetSolar presented the researchers with a unique opportunity to study the water without producing carbon emissions. To study the waters, the Tûranor was equipped with new sensors including the Biobox, an aerosol analyzer capable of determining the impact of aerosols on climate change and air quality
“PlanetSolar DeepWater made it possible to test several scientific instruments—some of which were prototypes developed at UNIGE—in real conditions,” Martin Beniston, a climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UNIGE, stated in a release. “Extensive physical, chemical, and biological data is now in the hands of UNIGE and will be the subject of a thorough analysis. […] [I]nteresting trends are becoming apparent, particularly in relation to sea spray aerosol production …”
Before competing its mission in London, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar made a number of stops around the world including New York—where our own Yuka Yoneda boarded the ship—Boston, Miami, Halifax, and St. John’s in Canada. The PlanetSolar is also famous for being the only solar-powered vessel to circumvent the globe – a feat it completed after a 19-month journey that ended in 2012.
Images © PlanetSolar