This story originally aired on May 27, 2017.
A group of students from the University of Washington is working on a way to create satellites that could stay up indefinitely and fly in a circle over a particular patch of the earth. The results could mean cell phone and internet coverage in disaster areas, along with super-high-resolution images of remote places on the planet.
Right now, they’re testing their ideas, which have taken the shape of a 12-pound glider with a 20-foot wingspan attached to a small propulsion system that’s powered by dozens of penny-sized batteries.
We talk with Robert M. Winglee, University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences about the research he’s doing with his students and we check out a test launch of their latest technology that’s hoisted into the air with a giant helium balloon.