A solar powered 'pseudo satellite' is going to map the earth for 90 days at a time

Key Points
  • Britain's national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, has worked with aeronautic engineers to develop a solar powered High Altitude Pseudo Satellite.
  • Weighing 149 kilograms and with a wingspan of 38 meters, the plan is for the aircraft to fly for 90 days at a time without needing to land.
Ordnance Survey

Britain's national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, has teamed up with aeronautic engineers to develop a solar powered High Altitude Pseudo Satellite, or HAPS.

In an announcement Tuesday, the organization said that the enterprise, named Astigan, would offer "quicker and better images of the earth" using an aircraft that can fly at almost 67,000 feet. 

Weighing 149 kilograms and with a wingspan of 38 meters, the plan is for the aircraft to fly for 90 days at a time without needing to land. Astigan has worked with British businesses, universities and industry experts since 2014, and has already undertaken eight full scale flights.

According to Ordnance Survey, the craft can be positioned so it can view "any part of the earth and collect data over much wider areas compared to conventional aerial imagery capture." Other potential applications include climate and environmental monitoring as well as early warning, communications and observation for natural disasters.

"This remarkable aircraft has met every goal and passed all milestones in its ambitious development programme so farm," Brian Jones, managing director at Astigan, said in a statement.

"We are excited about the year ahead as we increase our flights and move towards a fully operational high-altitude test," he added.

"By the end of 2019 we aim to be completing endurance flight testing, building up to 90 days non-stop, which is the operational capability we're striving for."

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