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Operation CASTLE's 15 MT Bravo early fireball with Compton Effect lightning, March 1, 1954

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

VELA UNIFORM playtime with very low resolution source

VELA UNIFORM Participation on Operation NOUGAT and GNOME (1962)

This was an emergency response to the Soviets resuming nuclear testing after the revelation that U-2 spy planes exposed the significant strategic gap in Soviet nuclear missile development. Under way within 2 weeks of the Soviet resumption, this large mix of expert academics, industry, seismic monitoring organizations, the military, and the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy), set forth to develop means of detecting, indentifying, and locating underground nuclear explosives after the looming (atmospheric) Limited Test Ban Treaty took effect by 1963. VELA UNIFORM was the technical working of enforcement of future international testing requirements.

Here is the original, low resolution source:

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Random scene frame comparisons:





The Project GNOME water tank and ground shock spring instrument wall are seen to the upper right:



5 chemical bombs were detonated 4000 feet (1219 m) below the water near the San Catalina Islands, off the coast of San Diego, California.


Ground zero at the GNOME site near Carlsbad, New Mexico:


A camera was mounted in shock-resistant device when the ground violently heaved up from below, as the ball measured the displacement:



Project GNOME

Radiation counters require calibration:



Typical shots involved dozens if not hundreds of individual experiments:


Control Point countown ....


Shuron Ronsir Zyl ebony frame eyeglasses were among the most common designs of the 1960s, dating back to their 1947 development:


Seven seconds before the 104 kiloton Sedan thermonuclear device fired:


Oak Spring Butte loomed in the distance, behind Sedan, viewed from southwest to northeast on Yucca Flat:


Sedan ended in a crater is 100 m (330 ft) deep and a diameter of about 390 m (1,280 ft):



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Operation DOMINIC Johnston Island (1962), Section 3

Thor missiles were built by Douglas Aircraft Company -- later merged into McDonnell Douglas in 1967, and then Boeing in 1997 -- and required manufacturer technicians to monitor their technical operation.


DOMINIC I nearly ran out of Thor rockets, because of unforeseen tracking and rocket component failures. FISHBOWL reached completion with a Nike-Hercules rocket in the last shot, coded as Tightrope.


Instrument pods replaced AVCO reentry vehicles after aerodynamic failures in trial launches. Ceramic plating protected the lower rocket from exhaust eddies created by the pods and their support extensions.


Sadly obvious, not much could be done with the dark areas with digital processing, without increasing defects.

The shoreline cliffs and beach rocks are grey-black basalt.


Scientific monitoring of high altitude nuclear bursts took place at stations like these throughout the Pacific basin.


Flag Plot on the USS Princeton (LPH-5) was the VIP work center of the fleet. This is normally the fleet commander's navigation and operations office, but Major General Alfred Starbird was the joint task force leader of DOMINIC I. (R to L) Dr. William E. Ogle, Los Alamos test director (a.k.a. supreme scientific commander, who also was among the top American negotiators for the use of Christmas Island/Kiritimati during DOMINIC); Starbird, Joint Task Force 8 supreme commander, US Army; Captain Paul J. Knapp, USN, skipper of USS Princeton; Lieutenant Colonel George Kallis, USAF, JTF 8 technical operations deputy; unknown US Navy commander.




MIM-14 (Mobile Interceptor Missile design 14) Nike-Hercules launch in salvo, each capable of reaching over 100 000 feet (30.5 km). This was the type of missile that carried the W31 boosted fission nuclear warhead of the last shot of the entire operation, coded as Tightrope, to 13 miles (21 km) in altitude.





Kingfish test update:




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That looks like Dr. William E. Ogle (below, left), the Los Alamos National Laboratory's field testing division commander:


Johnston Island's large radar tracking dish during DOMINIC I high altitude experiments:


Johnston Island launch pad flyover:


Oil tar sprays suppressed sand blowing the constant trade winds, especially in areas of high vehicle traffic, causing darker areas.


This coral sand crusher was the source of the island's growth over time (update):


USS Sproston (DD-577):


Is this a riometer field to the left?:


A remote island's data capture site:


Long range cameras recorded burst phenomena:


Instrument stations were placed throughout the Pacific basin.


Rafts like these were the bombing targets for nuclear weapons development tests off of Johnston Island, over open sea. Targeting radar reflectors, radio beacons, and flashing lights made them easy to find.


USS Princeton (LPH-5) hosted the fleet command center for some of Operation DOMINIC I. The darker, greyish-blue water under the ship was a sea rise, likely of coral.


Highly radioactive filter paper from a shot sampling mission was loaded into the lead protection casing, called a pig. That Martin B-57 flew through a mushroom cloud to extract bomb debris particles, using filter pods along the wing tips. These samples were flown directly to the Lawrence-Livermore and Los Alamos weapons labs, for fission efficiency analysis.

The relative amount of unfissioned uranium and plutonium among their decay products determined the yield of the fission component. Fireball photography and electromagnetic signal timings between fission and fusion stages were common techniques to calculate the fusion and total yields.


USS Spruance (DD-447) sailed at sea after its FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization, Mark II) upgrade during 1961 in Hawaii. Mark II was a lighter upgrade intended to extend the useful life of the World War II ship by at least 5 years, and less costly than a Mark I system, with the Vietnamese insurgency growing. The overhaul included the new DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) system, Mark 32 torpedo tubes, and VDS (Variable Depth Sonar), to detect extremely quiet submarines.


Technicians buried this scientific recorder:


Spinning antennas measured signal propagation effects during a nuclear burst:



1.6 megaton yield Chama detonated at 3650 meters (12 000 feet) high.


Original Housatonic sequence:


Early test:



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Operation DOMINIC Nuclear Tests 1962, Section 3

Developed for the United States Air Force by Lockheed, C-130 Hercules aircraft first entered service in 1955 as the fastest American military propeller-driven cargo planes of that time, exceeding 370 mph (595 kph).

This platform carried fireball and device performance diagnostic equipment:


The C-130 had a unique ability of its time, able to taxi in reverse under its own power. Reversible thrust propellers made this possible. This same feature shortened landing distances for more versatility with ground unloading and reloading support around the world.


A Douglas C-54 Skymaster


A Martin RB-57D Canberra cloud sampler of the 4028th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS), based at Kirtland AFB. The 4028th SRS was under the command of their SAC wing, which is famous for the first to fly U-2 missions over hostile territories.

An XM-33 Strypi Antares was in its final preparations as diagnostic support for STARFISH PRIME.


The STARFISH 1.45 megaton yield W49 warhead detonated at 250 mi/400 km altitude, 9 July, 1962.

CHECKMATE also used 3 Strypi missiles, 2 as diagnostic missiles, and one as the warhead launcher, using 2 Recruit boosters attached at its base.