Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Black Rock Desert
The Black Rock Desert is a dry lake bed in northwestern Nevada in the United States. Considered one of the flattest surfaces on the earth, the desert is part of the extended playa of the lake bed of prehistoric Lake Lahontan, which existed between 20,000 and 9,000 years ago during the last ice age. During the lake's peak around 12,700 years ago, the desert floor was under approximately 500 feet (150m) of water.
The desert extends for approximately 100 miles (160km) northwest from the town of Gerlach-Empire, between the Jackson Mountains to the east and the Black Rock Range to the west. It is partially drained by the intermittent Quinn River, which has no outlet but evaporates as it crosses the desert.
The flatness of the surface has led to its use as a proving ground for experimental land vehicles. It was the site of the most recent successful attempts on the World Land Speed Record . In 1983, Richard Noble drove the jet-powered Thrust2 car to a new record of 633 mile per hour. Noble also headed up the team that beat the Thrust 2 record. In 1997, ThrustSSC became the world's first, and so far only, supersonic car.
The area is also used by the Tripoli Rocket Association for the annual rocket festivity "BALLS" where the ceiling, or maximum altitude is 100,000 feet. It is the USA's most prized and sacred launch site for high power rocket hobbiests.
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