Travelling through ‘the door of the desert’ on the Sun

Step 1: Open Wikipedia.

Step 2: Type ‘Ouarzazate’.

Step 3: Enjoy.

If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve found yourself privy to ‘the door of the desert’: Ouarzazate. Located in Morocco, Ouarzazate is both a city and capital of the Ouarzazate Province. For a long time, the city acted as a crossing point for African traders en route to Europe; more recently the city has developed into a noted film-making location for cinema classics including ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Gladiator’.

What Wikipedia fails to highlight is that the city will be part of the Solar Impulse Mission 2012!

As you might remember from our previous blog, the Solar Impulse is a long-range solar powered plane project which uses high-tech polymer materials and energy-saving lightweight solutions, including carbon nano-technology, innovative polyurethane adhesives and lightweight polyurethane foams. In July 2010, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA made history by becoming the first solar-powered airplane to fly through a complete daylight cycle, thereby establishing three World Records.

This spring, the Solar Impulse will attempt to set another record by flying more than 2,500 km fueled exclusively by solar energy! Its destination? You guessed it: Ouarzazate. The city was chosen as it is set to construct the largest thermo-solar power plant EVER built; Morocco intends to build five solar-thermal/photovoltaic complexes by 2020, generating over 2,000 megawatts and preventing the emission of 3.7 million tons of CO2.

The flight, set for May or June, will act as a dress rehearsal before the curtains rise for the Jules Verne-esque voyage in which the Solar Impulse aims to circumnavigate the world in 2014.

For now, please enjoy this video of the Solar Impulse in action.

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