The interaction of ultra-high energy cosmic rays with the atmosphere nuclei has long been seen as a unique opportunity to study hadronic interactions above energies attainable by accelerators. However, so far the multiparticle production properties of the first interaction have been difficult to assess as they are masked by the many interactions that outline the shower development.
In this work, we demonstrate, that relevant properties of the ultra-high energy first interaction can be accessed through the analysis of the shower-to-shower distribution of muons arriving at the ground. In particular, it is shown that the slope of the low-tail of the number of muon distribution measured at the ground is a direct link to the high energy spectrum of neutral pions produced in the interaction of the primary protons.
In this presentation, it will also address the experimental feasibility of such measurements and their connection with physical quantities being currently measured at the Large Hadron Collider.