Decision Sciences’ Discovery™ - A Multi-Mode Passive Detection System enables the detection of security threats at both seaport and land border operations while facilitating the legitimate flow of commerce. Discovery™ is the only existing technology capable of passively detecting shielded nuclear material, contraband, or anomalies in commerce.

Our Technology Explained

Flux of muons going down to the earth.

Cosmic rays shatter in the Earth’s atmosphere and produce a harmless flux of muons and electrons that rain onto earth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Over 10,000 muons and electrons pass through your body every minute.

Molecules illustrations of water, iron, and tungsten.

When muons hit objects they are highly penetrating and scatter based on the atomic number and nuclear density. Electrons scatter much more readily than muons due to their lower mass and attenuate proportional to the atomic number.

The Discovery™ hardware is made up of aluminum drift tube arrays across the top and the bottom that form a drive-thru portal. This hardware allows Discovery™ to detect muons, electrons, and gamma radiation.

Muons first penetrate the tube arrays over the top, then the truck, container, cargo, and lastly through the tube arrays below. Their trajectory is changed based on the atomic number and nuclear density of the material with which they interact.

Discovery™ – A Multi-Mode Passive Detection System tracks the path of muons from when they enter the system and analyzes the data to produce a 3D visualization of the material discrimination that enables the identification of:

  • Threats and contraband
  • Anomalies and voids
  • Unshielded and shielded radiological material

Detection Capabilities of Discovery™ - A Multi-Mode Passive Detection System

X-ray technology has peaked in its ability to combat the modern threats to global safety and legitimate trade posed by terrorists and smugglers. Discovery’s™ capability to penetrate shielding materials and provide actionable information is completely unmatched. Proprietary cutting-edge software allows for threat and material of interest detection.

Icon of a bomb.


Icon of a tobacco pipe.


Icon of drugs/narcotics.


Icon of fuel.


Icon of precious metals.

Precious Metals

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Icon of ammunition.


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Case Examples

Voids in Solid Steel Rolls

Discovery™® has capabilities that are unmatched by x-ray machines. To the left is an actual Discovery™ scan displaying a 3D visualization of Coiled Steel Rolls. Within 90 seconds of scanning with Discovery™ the operator could unequivocally see voids within the steel. Operators have access to an intuitive user interface that provides visualization of 3D maps of the contents of the shipping container, allowing the operator to explore and inspect the cargo in three axes. Discovery’s™ 3D visualization provides the operator with the actionable information needed to make informed decisions on the presence of threats, contraband, anomalies, and voids. The information provided by Discovery™ is greatly beyond the capability of existing x-ray machines.
Illustration of penetrating paper, metal, water and other elements with the MMPDS from Decision Sciences.

Drugs Hidden Inside Water

Over the years smugglers have learned how to ‘beat” x-ray machines. X-ray machines are easily defeated by less than several inches of water or just inches of shielding materials. Shielding materials include metals of all kinds, stone, granite, marble, cement, water, ice, frozen goods and produce. With this knowledge a smuggler can hide contraband within common cargo of all kinds. However, Muons safely and naturally penetrate completely through known shielding materials. In the video below Discovery™ is able to discriminate possible contraband apart from the pallets of water that they are hidden inside of. In this example the contraband appears in Discovery’s™ 3D image as an “anomaly”. Discovery’s™ proprietary user interface allows operators to slice through the 3D visualization to pinpoint the exact location and relative size of the contraband.

Click Here To Watch Video Below

Key Benefits

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  • Zero ionizing radiation
  • Safe for people, animals, food
  • No exclusion zone needed
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  • Adjust probability of detection levels on a case-by-case basis
  • Adaptable to new threats and trends via data modeling
  • Additional functionality achieved with reoccurring software updates
  • A network of deployed systems enables the ability to share secure data between locations
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  • High operational availability
  • Reduce risk of human error
  • No moving parts to break down or maintain
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  • Penetration and classification capabilities surpass all competing technologies
  • 3D visualizations
  • Material discrimination and customized classification
  • X
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  • Allows operators to analyze cargo all while continuing their standard operations
  • Designed for implementation as a Primary Screening Solution
  • Scan a higher % of cargo


How does Discovery - A Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) work?

The Discovery system uses a constant flux of naturally occurring muons and electrons, emanating from cosmic rays, to scan containers or other conveyances for threats or materials of interest. This is accomplished by measuring the scattering density and the stopping power of the muons and electrons as they pass through materials within the scan volume.

The Discovery system uses this unique data provided by the particle interactions and processes it through multiple proprietary algorithms. Discovery provides 3-dimensional (3D) visualizations that the operators can manipulate and use as an additional decision-making resource.

What is the difference between X-Ray/Gamma Radiation and Discovery?

Discovery A - Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS):
• 100% safe with no ionizing radiation
• A totally passive system with no safety exclusion needed
• Provides detection and material classification
• 3D visualizations and image slicing
• Low cost maintenance and no moving parts
• Operationally available over 98% of the time
• Can penetrate over 1,000 mm of steel and through liquids

X-ray / Gamma Radiation Systems:
• Produces harmful ionizing radiation
• Requires safety exclusion zone
• Limited material discrimination capability
• Requires operators’ visual interpretation of 2D image
• High cost maintenance and replacement parts
• Operationally available less than 80% of the time
• Unable to penetrate past 400 mm of steel or through liquids

What are the building specs for the Discovery enclosure?

The Discovery Environmental Enclosure (building) is the physical structure that contains and protects the Discovery hardware and electronics. The specifications for the enclosure depend on the intended implementation and the configuration of the product purchased. This structure can be a freestanding building or an existing, retro-fitted building, or can be an “all-in-one” building that contains the detector as well as a computing room and control booth or room. Regardless of the configuration, the enclosure typically sits atop a single concrete pad with a concrete encased trench where the bottom Discovery detector array is located.

What other space requirements are needed to run Discovery?

A Computing Room and Control Room are needed.

The Computing Room is the space where the computing equipment providing computational and data storage systems are located. This can be a standalone structure or can be adjacent to, or part of, the Control Room. This building or room will contain all of the application servers, database servers, data storage and network equipment required to carry out software processing. It will have the appropriate power, communications and environmental conditioning systems necessary to support the computing operations of Discovery.

The Control Room is where the system operator is located and where the image monitors and other Discovery control systems are located. The system operator may be located either in the detector enclosure or in the Control Room. As previously stated, this could be its own structure or could be combined with the Physical Security Information Management/Command and Control (PSIM/C2) facilities if Discovery has been installed in an existing, retrofitted building. The Control Room will contain all of the equipment necessary to control Discovery and to conduct visual image analysis via high-resolution monitors and, like the Computing Room, will also contain the entire infrastructure necessary to carry out operations. The Control Room may also be used to allow site operators to control traffic flow and manage the site security in which case the size and specifications for the room will be adjusted.

Has Discovery A - Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS) been certified by any independent organization as 100% passive and safe for people to be around?

Yes. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) provided subject matter experts and appropriate radiation detection instruments to perform an on-site measurement of the ionizing radiation emissions, if any, from a Decision Sciences Discovery A -Multi-Mode Passive Detection System (MMPDS). Discovery has also been certified by the Atomic Energy Regulation Board (AERB), India as a completely passive system that only harnesses naturally occurring cosmic rays. These reports can be discussed in detail with customers on a one on one basis.

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