60 years since most powerful nuclear bomb tested at Bikini Atoll - Tucson News Now

60 years since most powerful nuclear bomb tested at Bikini Atoll

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Image one - Bikini Atoll taken by Landsat 8 Satellite (Source: NASA) Image one - Bikini Atoll taken by Landsat 8 Satellite (Source: NASA)
Image two a close up of the large crater left by the nuclear test (Source: NASA) Image two a close up of the large crater left by the nuclear test (Source: NASA)

The Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean was the home to 23 nuclear bomb tests by the United States from 1946 to 1958.  

It was 60 years ago this month that the U.S. tested the most powerful of those bombs on an islet in the atoll.   

On March 1, 1954 a hydrogen bomb was dropped and expected to produce a blast of four to six megatons. 

Instead the explosion was measured at 15 megatons, making it the largest above-ground test of a hydrogen bomb in U.S. history. 

The resulting mushroom cloud reached 130,000' (over 24 miles) into the sky, which is four to five times higher than the level commercial jets fly on long distance routes; and spread fallout over four continents.

A photo of the Bikini Atoll was taken on August 19, 2013 by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite that circles the Earth. 

Image one shows the entire atoll with image two showing a close up of the large crater left behind by the bomb's explosion -  a hole that is 1.2 miles across and 260 feet deep.  

According to NASA Earth Observatory "nearly one thousand islanders were moved to other islands in the archipelago during the years of the tests. And while there have been several attempts to decontaminate the islets and to resettle people for several years in the 1970s, the islands are officially uninhabited today. UNESCO has declared Bikini Atoll to be a World Heritage Site as a reminder of the Cold War and nuclear arms race."

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