Compton Camera built with space technology makes Fukushima radiation visible

Japanese researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, have developed a super-wide angle digital camera capable of depicting radiation in the environment.

The camera has been developed at the request of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and employs some of the same technology used in gamma ray detectors aboard the next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H.  The total amount of gamma rays emitted by cesium 137 and 134 are captured in six different colors in an image taken with a wide-angle lens, with red representing the highest and yellow second highest radiation levels.

On February 11, 2012, JAXA, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a field test of the dose measurement and imaging survey using the “Super-wide Angle Compton Camera” at Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture. The results yielded the successful image capturing of the dispersed radio-cesium over a much broader area and to a higher degree of accuracy in comparison with existing gamma cameras.

According to the agency, images produced with the new camera are more precise than those taken with imaging equipment currently in use at the crippled nuclear plant, and is able to capture images at an angle of nearly 180 degrees, three times wider than existing models. Professor Tadayuki Takahashi of the space agency says his team will work to make the camera lighter so that it can help in environmental decontamination operations.

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