World Solar Challenge: spotted in action

This updated table shows the 35 (out of 42) cars in the World Solar Challenge which have been spotted on the track or on the road as at 20:40 on Wed, Oct 4 (Darwin time). There are links to photos and to team social media. The third column of the table shows the car class (or, for Cruisers, the number of seats). For more detailed information about the teams, see my annotated teams list.

2 Cha University of Michigan  – see photo
3 Cha Nuon Solar Team  – see photo
4   Cha Antakari Solar Team 
5 2-st Singapore Polytechnic  – see video
7 Cha Adelaide University  – see photo
8 Cha Punch Powertrain Solar Team  – see photo
9 4-st Iowa State University (PrISUm)  – see photo
10   Cha Tokai University 
11 4-st Bochum University of Applied Sciences  – see photo
12   Cha Cambridge University  – tragically, Cambridge is out of the race
14   3-st Flinders University 
15 Cha Western Sydney Solar Team  – see photo
16 Cha Stanford Solar Car Project  – see photo
18 Cha MARA University of Technology / EcoPhoton  – see photo
20 Cha Durham University  – see photo
21 Cha Solar Team Twente  – see video
22 Cha MDH Solar Team  driving with a temporary battery (problem described here)
23   4-st University of Tehran  – no car yet
25 Cha Nagoya Institute of Technology  – see photo
28   Cha Korea National University of Transportation 
30 2-st Clenergy Team Arrow  – see photo
32 Cha Principia Solar Car Team  – see photo
34 Cha R.V. College of Engineering  – see photo
35 2-st Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education  – see photo
37 Cha Goko High School  – see photo
38 Cha North West University  – see video
40 5-st Solar Team Eindhoven  – see photo
42 2-st TAFE SA  – see photo
43 Cha Australian National University  – see video
45 5-st Lodz Solar Team  – see photo
46 Cha JU Solar Team  – see video
49 2-st Siam Technical College  – see video
52 Adv University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  – see photo
53   Adv Mississippi Choctaw High School  – no car yet
70 Cha Sonnenwagen Aachen  – see video
71 Cha Istanbul Technical University  – see photo
75 4-st University of New South Wales / Sunswift  – see photo
77 Cha University of Toronto / Blue Sky  – see photo
82 Cha Kookmin University Solar Team  – see photo
88 Cha Kogakuin University  – see photo
94 2-st University of Minnesota  – see photo
95 2-st Kaohsiung / Apollo  – see photo


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Travelling across Australia: Ten things to spot

On October 8, teams in the World Solar Challenge begin their race from Darwin to Adelaide. Here are 10 things for travellers across Australia to look out for.

1. The Magellanic Clouds

The Magellanic Clouds are two small galaxies – at 160,000 light-years and 200,000 light-years, the nearest visible galactic neighbours of our Milky Way. They can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, away from towns. The Australian Outback is the perfect place to observe them.


The Magellanic Clouds (photo: ESO/S. Brunier)

2. The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross (Crux) is a constellation appearing on the flags of many countries in the Southern Hemisphere, including Australia. It consists of four bright stars, with a fifth being visible to the naked eye in good conditions. The constellation can be located with the aid of the pointer stars Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri. It can also be used to determine the South Celestial Pole. The star at the “top” of the Cross (Gamma Crucis) is a red giant. The fifth star (Epsilon Crucis) is an orange giant.


The Southern Cross, pointers, and Magellanic Clouds (image: Michael Millthorn)

3. The wedge-tailed eagle

The wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)) is Australia’s largest bird of prey, and a national icon. It can be seen around Australia, either in the sky, or snacking on roadkill.


Wedge-tailed eagle (photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos)

4. The red kangaroo

The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) is the largest living marsupial, and is found throughout central Australia, in areas with less than 500 mm rainfall. It is an Australian national icon, as well as being a major traffic hazard at dawn and dusk.


Red kangaroos (photo: Jenny Smits)

5. The sand goanna

The sand goanna (Varanus gouldii) is a large monitor lizard, growing to about 1.5 metres. It is found across much of Australia.


Sand goanna (photo: Alan Couch)

6. The thorny devil

The thorny devil (Moloch horridus) is found in arid, sandy areas of western and central Australia. It lives mostly on ants.


The thorny devil (photo: Bäras)

7. Magnetic termites

Magnetic termites (Amitermes meridionalis) are one of two Australian termite species building mounds that align north–south. They can be found in the vicinity of Darwin. The mound orientation appears to be a temperature-control mechanism.


A magnetic termite mound (photo: brewbooks)

8. Sturt’s desert pea

Sturt’s desert pea (Swainsona formosa) grows in arid regions of Australia. It is the floral emblem of the state of South Australia.


Sturt’s desert pea (photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos)

9. The desert grasstree

The desert grasstree (Xanthorrhoea thorntonii) is a grasstree found in arid regions of western and central Australia. Like the other 27 species of grasstree (Xanthorrhoea spp.), it is endemic to Australia, and a symbol of the Australian landscape.


The desert grasstree (photo: Mark Marathon)

10. Opal

Opal is a gemstone form of hydrated silicon dioxide. The town of Coober Pedy in South Australia is a major source.


Opal from Coober Pedy (photo: Dpulitzer)


World Solar Challenge: about the Cruisers

To illustrate the World Solar Challenge Cruiser-class scoring for 2017, here is the calculation for Kogakuin’s 2015 car (above). Disclaimer: this is, of course, my personal interpretation of the regulations.

Notice that Cruisers are not in a race this year – any arrival time during the 11:00 to 14:00 time window on Friday is OK.

Arrival time

Friday 11:35.
Inside window? YES

Energy efficiency

Battery capacity, Q = 14.855 kWh
Number of recharges, n = 1 (at Alice Springs)
External energy use, U = (n + 1) Q = 29.71
Person-km, C = 3022
Energy efficiency, E = C / U = 101.7
Highest energy efficiency, E* = 203.6 (Eindhoven)
Relative energy efficiency, E / E* = 0.4996

Practicality

Practicality P = 51.75
Highest practicality, P* = 84.5 (Eindhoven)
Relative practicality, P / P* = 0.6124

Total Score

Total score, S = 80 E / E* + 20 P / P* = 39.97 + 12.25 = 52.22

This is a massively lower score for Kogakuin than was actually awarded in 2015. This year, the World Solar Challenge Cruiser Class is all about energy-efficiency, carrying passengers, and practicality. Expect to see the four-seat and five-seat Cruisers (like the Polish car below) running with every seat occupied.


Silly Season in the Sky (again)

It’s apparently time for lunatic end-of-the-world prophecies again. The latest relates to a “great red dragon” in the sky (a reference to Revelation 12):

Turns out that this is a double image of Saturn, taken way back in 1983 by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). Saturn was then at RA 13h45m18.2s, DEC -08d13m07s.

It’s a false-colour image (i.e. not red at all), being taken at 100 microns, in the infrared region of the spectrum. But with enough spin, apparently it can be made to sound scary.

In the final version of the infrared sky survey, this artefact was blacked out, since it doesn’t reflect any actual stellar infrared sources (just a planet that moves around). Of course, that removal got the conspiracy-theory nutters going.