WHAT IS MUON TOMOGRAPHY?
Thanks to their ability to penetrate deep into solid matter, muons can be used to image the internal structure of objects in a manner similar to X-rays. Detectors are placed in strategic positions around the object to be scanned, and left running for several months. Over time a pattern of detections builds up, revealing the void areas where the muons passed through without issue, and the denser areas where some of them were absorbed or scattered. The internal structure of the object can therefore be discerned.
The technique has previously been used to reliably image and create 3D models of the interior of volcanoes, making clear the distinction between rocks of different temperatures, water, and voids beneath the surface, and also to probe the ruins left behind in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.