White Sands, uninhabited desert area, S central N.Mex. It is a center for U.S. military-weapons research and testing. On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was exploded at Holloman Air Force Base (formerly Alamogordo Air Base). Each military branch maintains facilities at White Sands Missile Range, the busiest U.S. missile range. The area encloses White Sands National Monument, which preserves the huge gypsum dunes, as well as unique plant and animal life adapted to living there (see National Parks and Monuments, table), and San Andres National Wildlife Refuge.
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