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First Drone Survey of Chernobyl's 'Red Forest' Reveals Staggering Radioactive Hotspots

It's been 33 years since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant tragically blew apart in a meltdown, spreading nuclear fallout across the land. A lot has changed, but the surroundings still contain some of the most radioactive patches of soil on the planet.

Last month, researchers from the University of Bristol mapped that radioactivity in a comprehensive survey of a fraction of the exclusion zone, uncovering surprising hotspots local authorities had no idea existed.

The team used two types of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in an unprecedented fashion, mapping 15 square kilometres (5.8 square miles) of Chernobyl's 2,600 square kilometre (1,000 square miles) exclusion zone in 3D.

They used the pulsed laser system known as LIDAR to measure contours in the landscape while recording radiation levels with a lightweight gamma-ray spectrometer. A rotary-wing UAV was used to get a closer look at anything that caught their eye.

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Tina Brevitt - Director

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