PlanetSolar, the largest solar-powered boat in the world, docked in London Aug, 30, ending its second major global journey.
The boat sailed 584 days in 2011 and 2012 to illustrate the potential of solar power. This 2013 journey, which began in Belgium in June, was much shorter, but served a dual purpose. Researchers from the University of Geneva collected samples along the Gulf Stream off the coast of the United States and across the Atlantic Ocean.
The solar-powered boat was the ideal vessel for the journey because it doesn’t have any emissions that could have contaminated the ocean samples researchers took.
“Extensive physical, chemical and biological data is now in the hands of (the researchers) and will be the subject of a thorough analysis,” said Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva. “Although the study of this information is not yet under way, interesting trends are becoming apparent, particularly in relation to sea spray aerosol production.”
Aerosols, or micro-particles in the air became more prevalent as the boat approached Canada after traveling up the North American coast, Beniston reported earlier this summer. It’s an interesting phenomenon and one he said he looked forward to researching.
The Gulf Stream study was well matched with the goals of the MS Turanor PlanetSolar. Both the boat crew and the research team are deeply interested in climate change issues and seeking to address them in different ways.
The research team is studying global climate change and how it impacts the Gulf Stream and visa versa. The Planet Solar crew was happy to stop over in Miami, Boston, New York, Halliax, St. Johns in Canada and Oostende in Belgium. Now the boat is docked in London and will go on to finish its journey in Paris.
“These stops were unique opportunities to communicate the stakes of the ‘DeepWater’ expedition and raise public awareness about the issue of climate change,” according to a release about the boat’s journey and recent stop in London.
Covered completely in solar panels, the PlanetSolar stands out in docks. And as the world’s largest solar-powered vessel, the crew has taken on an education and outreach roll at every stop, happy to share the story of the boat and how it is carrying important scientists around the world emissions-free to take valuable samples for research.