COVID-19 is not stopping Super Bowl 55, nor stopping the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) annual sweep of background radiation levels at the site of the big game ahead of the coin toss.
The semiautonomous Department of Energy nuclear weapons agency will again dispatch its Nuclear Emergency Support Team’s Bell [TXT] 412 helicopter, equipped with passive radiation sensing technology, to map out radiation levels around Tampa, Fla., and Raymond James Stadium.
The helicopter, based out of Joint Base Andrews in Maryland but operated by personnel from the Nevada National Security Site, will fly in a grid pattern 150 feet above the city at about 80 miles per hour, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wrote Monday
Flights were scheduled to begin Feb. 1 and run through Feb. 3. The Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 7. The NNSA’s flights will create a baseline radiation map against which any illicit radiation — say from material in a radioactive dispersal device, or dirty bomb, — would stand out later.
Super Bowl 55 pits American Football Conference champions the Kansas City Chiefs against National Football Conference champs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The reigning champion Chiefs are looking to repeat. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady heads to the field with a milestone already in the bag: he’ll set a record for Super Bowl appearances this year, which will be his 10th.
But the NNSA will edge out even the ageless Brady for longevity. If all goes according to plan, the agency will have shown up to sweep for radiation at 11 consecutive Super Bowls. Like the NNSA, Brady — who ended a 20-year run with the New England Patriots last year — has new leadership this Super Bowl.