A ground-penetrating nuclear bomb has been slammed into the surface of the US for the first time in six years—but, fortunately, without its nuclear warhead in place.

These images are the result of new tests by Sandia National Laboratories of the B61-11 nuclear bomb. Picked from a stockpile of US weaponry, it was fitted with sensors, chilled to simulate the low temperatures it would experience when strapped to an aircraft, then driven into a concrete target. The odd patterning is in place to help engineers analyze the bomb's path.


It's the first such test by Sandia since 2008. The reason for the lull? The test rig used to fire the bomb into the ground uses a high-power rocket sled, which unexpectedly fired during the last test, severely injuring one employee. Since, the testing procedures have been given an overhaul. [Sandia National Laboratories via New Scientist]