reply to post by Maxmars
You my be right on both counts. Perhaps I am projecting a technical capability that we don't have. but I was sure that we could track nuclear
material (assuming it was not shielded). Perhaps I am confusing sci-fi with reality...
I was also pretty certain that the idea of radioactive devices being easy to detect with these types of technology to be correct. But when faced with
the question of "would it be possible to read radiation through the ocean?" I started questioning myself if water wouldn't have the same physical
relation with radiation that it has with sound, or light.
What makes me think this way is that we are always hearing about radiation being easily spread by the wind and water, which - to my
mind - would be much easier than what happens with sound. If that is the case, then the ocean water movements could disperse
that dumped radiation, or quite simply, block it's detection through a whole body of water.
As an example, a surface destroyer can't detect a submarine that is 400feet below him if that submarine is also below a thermal layer of water. The
different temperature blocks the sonar from picking up return "pings".
Then I started researching about this and found some curious information:
Nuclear MASINT is one of the six major subdisciplines generally accepted to make up Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), which covers
measurement and characterization of information derived from nuclear radiation and other physical phenomena associated with nuclear weapons, reactors,
processes, materials, devices, and facilities. Nuclear monitoring can be done remotely or during onsite inspections of nuclear facilities. Data
exploitation results in characterization of nuclear weapons, reactors, and materials. A number of systems detect and monitor the world for nuclear
explosions, as well as nuclear materials production.
I assumed NASA would have a whole division dedicated to radiation detection, if not only just to study our Sun, but I was unaware that there is a
whole "discipline" of Intelligence to it.
According to the United States Department of Defense, MASINT is technically derived intelligence that – when collected, processed, and
analyzed by dedicated MASINT systems – results in intelligence that detects, tracks, identifies, or describes the signatures (distinctive
characteristics) of fixed or dynamic target sources. MASINT was recognized as a formal intelligence discipline in 1986.
Althouth in this paragraph it states that MASINT has the ability to track both dynamic and stationary targets, it also states that the detection is
made through several complex data-related processes.
This made me assume that although it's possible to detect this Russian accidental drop
, they would need to know it was there to look for it. I
thought they weren't able to scan
the globe and then receive a report of radiation focus.
But then I read the rest of the information...
In 1959, the US started to experiment with space-based nuclear sensors, beginning with the VELA HOTEL satellites. These were originally intended
to detect nuclear explosions in space, using X-ray, neutron and gamma-ray detectors. Advanced VELA satellites added electro-optical MASINT devices
called bhangmeters, which could detect nuclear tests on earth by detecting a characteristic signature of nuclear bursts: a double light flash, with
the flashes milliseconds apart. Using Radiofrequency MASINT sensors, satellites also could detect electromagnetic pulse (EMP) signatures from events
Several more advanced satellites replaced the early VELAs, and the function exists today as the Integrated Operational Nuclear Detection System
(IONDS), as an additional function on the MILSTAR satellites used for GPS navigation information.
Considering NASA is able to detect nuclear explosions from Space since the 50's, I'm assuming they have something very usefull by now...
The VELA's were used to detect nuclear explosions by scanning the Earth with several gamma and X-ray detection cameras
(?). Major importance to
them because they were meant to enforce the nuclear-test ban made witht the Soviets.
This thing's were so sensitive, they are actually responsible for discovering the scientificly interesting Gamma Ray Bursts.
The VELA's were scanning Earth when detected several powerful gamma releases. Fearing a major nuclear explosion, they analyzed the data carefully.
Further investigation from NASA provided the answer:
They had just discovered Gamma Ray bursts, one of the "most violent events in the
Just as a sidenote, it is said that one of those GRB's aimed at Earth, could cause a mass extintion event.
edit on 30-8-2012 by
GarrusVasNormandy because: bad code