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The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the world’s largest solar-powered boat and the first ever solar-electric vehicle to circumnavigate the globe. Over 5,300 square feet of 93 kW PV panels line the surface of the catamaran, powering an electric motor with a maximum output of 120kW. The panels, electric motor and 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries allow the PlanetSolar to travel the high seas using no gasoline and releasing no carbon emissions.

In 2012, the PlanetSolar completed its 19-month trip around the world, making it the only solar-powered vessel ever to do so. Last month, the eco-vessel set sail once again, this time up the eastern seaboard and across the Atlantic Ocean, with a goal of collecting scientific data along the Gulf Stream. New York is the boat’s second stop after departing from Miami, and it plans to dock at Boston, St. John’s, Canada and Reykjavik, Iceland before reaching its final destination of Bergen, Norway.

Passengers aboard the PlanetSolar include Captain Gérard d’Aboville and crew, as well as a team of scientists led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva. The team’s mission is to, in the words of Professor Beniston, “navigate along the Gulf Stream and collect scientific data, from both water and air, in order to better understand complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere as well as the role of these interactions in climate change.” Before embarking, the Turanor was outfitted with a new aerosol analyzer called the Biobox, which will be used to determine the impact of aerosols on climate change and air quality. The on-board team will also examine how phytoplankton can regulate climate, and how the flow of the ocean can change due to density and temperature (thermohaline circulation).

Stay tuned at Inhabitat for more photos from the PlanetSolar and details about the DeepWater expedition as we get them.

+ PlanetSolar