Kuiper pants happily with sand on his nose.

White Sands National Monument

Kuiper has a happy at White Sands National Monument.

On this day in 1933, White Sands National Monument was established in southern New Mexico. The monument encompasses about 40% of a 275 square mile area of very special dunes. Unlike hard quartz sand at the beach, the “sand” at White Sands is made of soft gypsum crystals. White Sands is by far the largest gypsum dune field in the world.

Although the area gets less than 10 inches of rain a year, the water table is only a few feet below the surface and thus supports a robust ecosystem. The sand also remains cool regardless of the air temperature, and you don’t have to dig very far before it starts getting moist. Here Kuiper has dug himself a little hole to cool off in while we stop to take pictures of our surroundings. Dogs are allowed on-leash throughout the monument!

White Sands National Monument is adjacent to White Sands Missile Range, home of several major, complicated pieces of history. Two that I will highlight in future posts:

1. The first test of captured German V2 rockets in the United States occurred here after World War II. The Redstone rocket that took our first brave astronauts into space was a direct descendant of this captured Nazi technology. Operation Paperclip is a complicated topic, and Wernher von Braun was a complicated dude.

2. The first detonation of a nuclear weapon (anywhere on Earth) occurred here on July 16, 1945. The Trinity site is open to the public 2x a year. For what it’s worth, I have pictures of Kuiper with a full-scale replica of the Gadget (as well as Fat Man and Little Boy…) at @nuclear_museum. I will post them once I am done figuring out how to give the topics the respect and nuance they deserve (it might be a little while.)

In the meantime, places like White Sands National Monument are in grave danger right now due to the government shutdown. However, you have the power to help. Find your senators’ local phone numbers at callyourrep.co and ask them to vote on reopening the government. Whether you live inside or outside the US, you can help by spreading the word.

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsyLJlyjfZB/

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