Cosmos 954

Radioactive debris particle (in red) next to Canadian Penny

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Interpreting Radiation in the ‘Inhospitable’ North: Official Perceptions of Risk in Operation Morning Light

‘The antlers’: first piece of recovered debris


In January 1978, the Soviet nuclear satellite Cosmos 954 crashed unexpectedly in the barrenlands of the Northwest Territories. Radioactive debris from the satellite was scattered across hundreds of square kilometres from Hay River to Baker Lake, mainly in the form of tiny particles that were impossible to detect without the use of specialized equipment. Assisted by the United States, the Canadian government initiated an intensive, military-led process of ground and aerial surveys to remove this hazardous debris from the northern landscape, dubbed Operation Morning Light. This project examines the complex perceptions and framings of the North, science, and risk found in the written documentation of Operation Morning Light.