Sunlight could power micro-aircraft flying above the stratosphere

Sunlight could be used to power microfliers travelling above the stratosphere in the mesosphere. At present, the only vehicles that can travel in this layer of our atmosphere, at an altitude between 50 and 80 kilometres, are rockets destined for space. Aeroplanes and other modern aircraft can’t fly above 50 kilometres because the lower air density at these altitudes doesn’t allow for sufficient lift. On the flip side, the air in the mesosphere is too dense for the safe passage of satellites and could damage them, so it is off limits for them too. Igor Bargatin at the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues have come up with a device that could potentially achieve sustained travel through the mesosphere. “What we’re looking at is a new mechanism of levitation that…
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