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A solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for weeks or months at a time could one day replace expensive satellites in space for certain tasks, such as monitoring the environment and snapping photos from super-high altitudes.

The latest model of the so-called Zephyr drone was revealed by Airbus last week. The drone embarked on a test flight on July 11 and has been circling high above Arizona, miles above the weather and regular air traffic, ever since. The drone is slated to land in early August.

Solar panels on the drone’s wings power its electric motors and charge its batteries during the day. At night, the motors are driven by the batteries alone.

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Image: Airbus Zephyr

Airbus’ Zephyr drone can stay aloft for at least a month. A company spokesman said future versions could fly for up to four months at a time.Ben Stansall / AFP – Getty Images

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Click link below for article:

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/pseudo-satellite-drone-can-fly-70-000-feet-sky-ncna894071

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