Chernobyl’s ghostly Red Forest, one of the most radioactive sites on the planet, has been mapped by specially-equipped drones to measure the extent of its contamination.
Researchers from the UK’s University of Bristol, working as part of the National Centre of Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) recently traveled to the Chernobyl exclusion zone where they harnessed drones to gain fresh insight into radiation levels at the stricken forest. This involved the first ever use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to measure gammas and neutrons at the site, as well as the first use of a fixed-wing drone for Chernobyl radiation mapping.
As a result of the survey, radioactive hotspots were found that were previously unknown to local authorities in Ukraine, according to the University of Bristol.
A cloud of radioactive particles from the disaster reached other parts of Europe, such as Sweden. The lingering effects of the disaster can still be felt around Chernobyl.
The University of Bristol scientists used the drones to complete the comprehensive scan of the Red Forest, a radiation-ravaged area of woodland located near the Chernobyl plant that covers around 4 square miles. The forest earned its name because the radiation turned the trees a ginger-brown color, according to LiveScience.