An aeroplane that contains no moving parts and creates no emissions has been successfully constructed and flown by aeronautical engineers. The new model is heavier than a regular air-powered model.

The new plane has a five-metre wingspan and uses a solid-state propulsion system where electrical forces accelerate ions in a fluid. It was designed by a team led by Haofeng Xu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and is outlined in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Until now, all aircraft require a mechanical propulsion system that uses moving parts like turbines or propellers. The only exception was an unpowered glider or the few very early pedal-powered designs.

The electro-aerodynamics that use the ion-based system which Xu and his colleagues employed, has long been seen as an alternative. However, the physics behind the concept proved to be incredibly complicated.

In other news, researchers have discovered five strains of the bacterium Enterobacter from areas aboard the International Space Station (ISS). They are now calling for further careful research to figure out whether continuous exposure to microgravity could cause potentially dangerous mutations.

Nitin Singh and Daniela Bezdan from the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, US-led, a team who published a paper in the journal BMC Microbiology. In their work, they outline a genomic analysis of Enterobacter collected from the toilet and gym areas of the space station.

This form of bacteria is widespread on Earth and is linked to a range of sometimes serious human conditions, such as septic arthritis, osteomyelitis, skin and soft tissue damage and lower respiratory tract infections. Some strains even exhibit resistance to multiple antibiotics. 

In sequencing the samples taken from the ISS, the team found that all five strains belonged to one species, E. bugandensis.

Lastly, an astronaut is now teaching Manchester United’s kids to reach for the stars.

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson was called in by United to speak to their academy players. He spent 195 days in space. 

The 57-year-old spaceman discussed his experiences in space in addition to the importance of working as a team.

A source stated that Swanson discussed his own experiences and relayed how important it was for everyone to work together.

Do you think the new plane that uses a solid-state propulsion system could be the way of the future? Why or why not? What would be the benefit of this new technology?

Let us know in the comments below!