This blog was submitted by Nicky Palmer, 7th grader in Foster City, California.

Did you know that if we add up all of the solar energy that is taken in by the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans every year, we end up with about 3,850,000 exajoules? To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equal to 2.7 million earthquakes of the same size as the 2011 earthquake in Japan. That's a lot of energy we can use!

Another cool thing is that NASA has been working on a series of solar powered unmanned aircraft since the 1980’s. Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus and Helios Prototype, is the result of NASA’s efforts to use solar power for long duration high altitude flights. The Helios Prototype reached a record altitude of 96,863 feet in late 2001, which is the highest altitude reached by an aircraft that is not powered by rockets for sustained horizontal flight.