National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) helicopters are conducting radiation tests above parts of the Washington, D.C., area, in order to measure baseline levels, according to CBS News
The NSSA started flying the missions, using gamma radiation sensing technology, on Dec. 27, and will continue through Jan. 11, CBS reports. The NNSA’s Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) out of Joint Base Andrews is conducting the assessment for D.C. law enforcement.
It is measuring radiation that occurs naturally so baseline levels can be measured and then used for emergency preparedness.
The pilots are flying during daylight hours only, conducting missions at about 150 feet above a 70-square mile assessment area.
NNSA said it wanted to make the public aware of the flights so people would not panic when they see the low-flying helicopters.
The Washington missions are just a small part of NNSA’s work. Its Office of Emergency Operations collaborates with 80 foreign governments and 10 international organizations to provide assistance to nations that want to improve their emergency programs.
The NNSA, established by Congress in 2000, is a semi-autonomous agency in the Department of Energy, and works to enhance national security through the military application of nuclear science, according to agency press releases.
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