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April 18, 2005

Radiation detectors on buoys

The Lawrence Livermore National Labs site has an interesting write-up on trials of radiation detectors aboard buoys off the coast. The idea is to detect nuclear materials that might be carried on board boats and other vessels before they get close enough to land to be dangerous. The detectors are powered by wind- and solar-powered generators and are outfitted with wireless communications links.

Homeland security experts are evaluating a wide range of possible threats from terrorists. One of the more troubling scenarios is a small and crude nuclear device transported in and detonated from a boat located near a naval military base or a civilian shipping terminal. Thanks to a Livermore design, buoys outfitted with commercially available radiation detectors could soon play an important role by warning of the presence of nuclear materials in marine environments.

9/11 showed us that we needed to secure civilian transportation modalities (a shift away from the cold-war thinking of building missile shields, etc.). If the trials are successful, these detector systems might be deployed around busy ports to interdict and deter marine transport of nuclear materials and weapons. Apparently, proposals have already been submitted to deploy buoys with radiation detectors in the Oakland harbor.

Curious to see what the specs are on the detector system: how well detection at a distance works, how high the false positive rate is and how closely the buoys need to be spaced in order to be effective. As with any RF system, radiation has a power-law falloff (inverse-square law in this instance) with distance...

Posted by Narasimha Chari at 09:07 PM in communications, innovation, RF, Science, security, technology, Terrorism, WMD | Permalink

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Comments

Interesting! I have noticed that similar types of air crafts are being developed in the last couple of years! I wonder what this trend is all about.

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