Saturday, March 2, 2024

The United States decided to nuke the Van Allen belts on the same day that James Van Allen announced their discovery

NPR has a detailed write up, including a video showing the resulting light show:
The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.