The debris fireball and aurora created by the Hardtack Teak test

HARDTACK-Teak was an exoatmospheric high altitude nuclear weapon test performed during Operation Hardtack I. On 1 August 1958, the 3.8 Mt shot detonated at an altitude of 76.8 km. Teak caused communications impairment over a widespread area in the Pacific basin. This was due to the injection of a large quantity of fission debris into the ionosphere. The debris prevented normal ionospheric reflection of high-frequency (HF) radio waves back towards Earth, which disrupted most long-distance HF radio communications.

While an atmospheric nuclear explosion has a characteristic mushroom-shaped cloud, high-altitude and space explosions tend to manifest a spherical ‘cloud,’ reminiscent of other space-based explosions until distorted by Earth’s magnetic field, and the charged particles resulting from the blast can cross hemispheres to create an auroral display which has led documentary maker Peter Kuran to characterize these detonations as ‘the rainbow bombs’. The visual effects of a high-altitude or space-based explosion may last longer than atmospheric tests, sometimes in excess of 30 minutes.


Posted 9 months ago with 330 notes
Tagged:hardtack teaknuclear explosionnuclear testoperation hardtacksciencenuclear physics

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