Helicopter in Washington, DC on Mission to Detect Gamma Rays

Geo Beats
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A helicopter in Washington D.C. is measuring gamma rays.

It's not uncommon for manmade birds to fly over Washington DC.

Recently, though, a helicopter has been scoping out the scenery of the nation's capital for a bizarre reason.

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, officials are trying to measure radiation levels in the area. They are attempting to measure gamma rays, which are commonly created in nature due to nuclear decay.

Authorities want to know what Washington D.C.’s normal output levels of gamma rays are, so they would know how to respond if those levels ever increase.

The helicopter, which is equipped with radiation-detecting technology began making rounds in December and it is expected to continue inspecting the area through the middle of January.

In 2011 another low-flying helicopter appeared in the Seattle area. The aircraft made daily flights during the month of July. The helicopter was outfitted with radiation sensing technology.

Washington State Department of Health officials stated that the aircraft was “ measuring gamma emitters like cesium and radioactive iodine — materials that would likely increase in a radiation emergency.”

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