The first atomic bomb provides clues about the origin of the Moon

The site where the first atomic bomb exploded in July 1945 in the New Mexico Desert (USA)
The site where the first atomic bomb exploded in July 1945 in the New Mexico Desert (USA)

The analysis of fragments of vitrified rocks during the explosion of the first atomic bomb in 1945 reinforces the theories explaining the formation of our satellite.

GROUND ZERO. Samples collected more than 70 years ago at the Ground Zero site in the Alamogordo Desert of New Mexico (USA), where the first nuclear test was carried out on July 16, 1945, were analyzed by American and French scientists … and their results make it possible to better understand the mechanisms that would have led to the formation of the Moon!

When this fission bomb (codenamed „Trinity“) exploded, equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, extremely high temperature and pressure conditions had transformed the surface sand layer into a vitreous Green color called „trinitite“. Very few samples have been retained to date, as the site was bulldozed in the early 1950s for safety reasons. Cosmo-chemists and geophysicists from the University of California, San Diego, and the Paris Institute of Earth Physics have succeeded in collecting several pieces taken at varying distances (10 to 200 meters) from the place where the bomb had exploded.

Elements such as zinc have been vaporized due to extreme temperatures

These samples were screened by a mass spectrometer. The results indicate that they contain large amounts of heavy isotopes but virtually no water and „volatile“ elements such as zinc and chlorine, sprayed by extreme temperatures. And this absence of volatile elements is all the more marked as the pieces of trinitite were at a distance near the place of the explosion. However, the rock fragments that were collected and brought back to Earth by lunar missions in the late 1960s and 1970s have the same chemical composition: they also contain very few volatile elements and are enriched in Isotopes!

This work suggests that similar chemical reactions and evaporation processes, at very high temperatures, must have occurred at the birth of the Moon 4.5 billion years ago. And reinforce the „giant impact“ theory that one or more celestial bodies have struck the Earth and generated an immense explosion leading to the formation of our satellite. „Even if this theory was already widely accepted, we now have an empirical, experimental element to support it,“ said James Day, the lead author of the study.