Research NewsRobotics

Navigating Chernobyl's Deadly Maze

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Science  08 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5365, pp. 826-827
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5365.826

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Fearing that a moderate earthquake could cause it to collapse, a U.S.-Ukrainian team this fall will probe the concrete sarcophagus covering the exploded Chernobyl nuclear reactor using a cutting-edge new robot designed to withstand high radiation and navigate irregular terrain. The goal is to map the radioactive guts of the damaged reactor building so that engineers can stabilize the sarcophagus and prepare it for cleanup before a more sturdy covering can be built after the turn of the century. If successful, the technologies developed for the robot will be used in future planetary and asteroid exploration missions as well as in nuclear weapons cleanup.