On 24th January 1978, a Soviet spy satellite broke up upon re-entering the earth’s atmosphere.
Debris was scattered across thousands of miles of northern Canada, yet what was more worrying was that the satellite contained one hundred pounds of enriched uranium, contaminating the Canadian wilderness.
Why had this satellite, designed for long-term orbit, come crashing to earth?
Should we be asking more questions about the large number of radioactive satellites that still circle the earth?
Two days after Cosmos 954 had broken up Leo Heaps decided to make his way to the Northwest Territories to find out just how widespread the contamination was and to witness Operation Morning Light, the largest search for nuclear debris ever undertaken.
Heaps interviewed defence ministers, scientists, politicians, military men and local inhabitants to build up a picture of how this event unfolded; how the Soviet Union had lost control of its satellite and how panic had gripped America as the satellite stuttered over Maine, Las Vegas and Miami.
As the clean-up operation began Heaps witnessed the American NEST (Nuclear Emergency Search Team) and Canadian NAST (Nuclear Accident Support Team) going into action with planes and helicopters to search for radioactive debris that was spread over hundreds of miles.
Operation Morning Light is a brilliant exposé on the damage that humankind can do to the earth in its quest for knowledge and exploration. It investigates how North America was polluted by a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite at the height of the Cold War.
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