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Image of the Week - Cold War Craters in Nevada

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One of the most cratered landscapes on Earth is part of the Nevada Desert called Yucca Flat. Landsat 8's near-infrared and short wave infrared imaging shows the pockmarked surface perhaps more reminiscent of other planetary bodies than Earth.

The craters are relics from decades of nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government since the early Cold War. An aerial photo from the USGS EROS archive shows that nuclear testing had already begun by 1952, but the largest crater had not yet appeared.

On July 6th, 1962 the Department of Energy detonated a 104 kiloton nuclear device as part of the Plowshare Program which explored the feasibility of non-combat uses of nuclear devices. The result was the Sedan Crater, shown in this declassified satellite image from 1965, and still visible in Landsat imagery today.




Public Domain.