A meteor impact that occurred recently near a US base in Greenland has caused a flurry of attention after scientists reported the incident earlier this week, though it remains unacknowledged by military officials.
News of the event arrived in the late afternoon on Wednesday, when Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) shared the information on Twitter:
Meteor explodes with 2.1 kilotons force 43 km above missile early warning radar at Thule Air Base. https://t.co/qGvhRDXyfK
We’re still here, so they correctly concluded it was not a Russian first strike. There are nearly 2,000 nukes on alert, ready to launch. pic.twitter.com/q01oJfRUp4
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) August 1, 2018
The incident came to the attention of the FAS after mention of a fireball over Greenland was Tweeted by Ron Baalke of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, who noted that a “fireball was detected over Greenland on July 25, 2018 by US Government sensors at an altitude of 43.3 km,” and noted of the force of the impact that “The energy from the explosion is estimated to be 2.1 kilotons.”
The Aviationist reported the incident, noting that, “As of this writing, no reporting about any such event appears on the public news website of the 12th Space Warning Squadron based at Thule, the 21st Space Wing, or the Wing’s 821st Air Base Group that operates and maintains Thule Air Base in support of missile warning, space surveillance and satellite command and control operations missions.”
Despite information about the incident being made available online by NASA and other agencies, there has been no response from the USAF, whose presence at the nearby Thule Air Base represents the northernmost military presence of the United States anywhere in the world.
While the USAF’s silence is unusual (though perhaps not uncommon), it’s more easy to see why the Federation of American Scientists took interest: Thule Air Base is home to a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System that operates under the 12th Space Warning Squadron, among other early warning divisions whose aim and focus is to serve as an advance detection system for ICBMs launched against North America by other nations. In light of this, one can only imagine what the response to such an impact might have been like for those at Thule when it occurred.
Recent history has shown that our ability to detect and track potentially dangerous space objects is far from comprehensive; one need only look at the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia years ago for evidence of this. Looking further back, the famous Tunguska blast of 1908 illustrates just how devastating such a blast can be, even when the object in question explodes in midair, rather than impacting the Earth.
In light of this, perhaps the most concerning aspect of the recent Greenland impact is what we’ve already known for a long time: that we have a long way to go when it comes to protecting ourselves against oncoming threats from outer space.by