March 14, 2013
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed radiation-detection pods that can monitor airborne radiation using drones, without endangering human flight crews.
The “Harvester” system is designed to detect detonations of nuclear weapons. It can guide a drone to the site of a nuclear explosion by following the plume of gamma radiation where no onboard pilot could safely venture.
The system could also be used to monitor fallout from accidents at nuclear reactors, Sandia officials said.
Two years ago, on March 14, 2011, the National Nuclear Security Administration sent flight crews to Japan to monitor airborne and ground contamination from the still developing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.