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Solar Impulse, a zero-fuel aircraft powered entirely by the sun, has set off from New York to cross the Atlantic on its trip around the world.

The pilot, Bertrand Piccard, will attempt to reach Seville in Spain in about four days.

The UN’s top climate change official Christiana Figueres congratulated the Solar Impulse team, which includes the pilot André Borschberg, in flying the aircraft to circumnavigate the globe.

Alluding to Solar Impulse and the potential of solar energy to replace the bulk of polluting fossil fuels world-wide, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary said:

Solar Impulse is breaking through self-imposed barriers of possibility. We did not think before that it would be possible to traverse long distances with zero emissions in any flying vehicle. The fact that the two pilots have proven that this is possible, the fact that they are up in the air again and finishing the around the world flight they initiated proves that impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.

A view of the back of the plane during the Atlantic crossing

Solar Impulse gets its energy from 17,000 photovoltaic cells that cover the top surfaces of the craft. These cells power propellers during the day, but also charge batteries that the vehicle's motors can then use during the night.

Bertrand Piccard and his team tried to circumnavigate the world last year, but the vehicle's batteries overheated during the trip, forcing the project to layover on the Pacific archipelago while repairs were conducted.

Assuming that the trip to Seville is completed successfully, the plane will return back to its point of departure, which is Abu Dhabi.

Read more in this article by the BBC

Photographs by Solar Impulse

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