Cope Observed U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Colbalt Magnet Exercise

Joseph Cope participating in field activities during the DOE/NNSA exercise.

In February 2019, NC State PhD Candidate and CNEC Graduate Fellow Joseph Cope observed the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security (DOE/NNSA) Cobalt Magnet Exercise at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Federal responders were practicing to support the 2020 Mars launch which would include a radioisotope thermoelectric generator. The simulation is designed to exercise the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center (FRMAC) in the aftermath of a radiological release event. Field collections of water samples, soil samples and radiation readings in the environment utilized some the procedures he observed by the response teams.

Soil sampling tools to obtain field measurements for radiological assay in a nuclear accident.


He was afforded the opportunity to observe this training event in conjunction with his internship at the Remote Sensing Laboratory at Andrews Air Force Base in the summer of 2018. His summer research focused on a continuous air monitor which was in use for this full field exercise.

Joseph’s dissertation work is focused on air monitoring for radiological emergency response and is funded through DOE/NNSA’s Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities (CNEC). His advisor, Dr. Robert Hayes, was a former member of the Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) which supports the FRMAC.