WASHINGTON, D.C. – A helicopter may be seen flying at low altitudes over portions of Baltimore, Md., Jan. 15 and 16, 2014. The purpose of the flyovers is to measure naturally occurring background radiation.
A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System from Joint Base Andrews, will be equipped with radiation sensing technology. The helicopter flies at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour over various portions of the city at multiple altitudes.
While the helicopters are used primarily for emergency response, the flyovers are a part of a research project sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). The helicopter is scheduled to periodically fly over Baltimore for the next few years.
The background data will be used by DNDO to improve aerial radiation measurement capabilities used by local, state and federal entities.
NNSA and DNDO provide public notification of the upcoming flights so citizens are aware the low-flying aircraft are part of the public safety mission.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.