The US Air Force failed to report a major meteor explosion near a military base in Greenland earlier this summer, leading to concern and confusion.
The explosion contained 2.1 kilotons of force and occurred just above an early-warning radar at the Thule Air Force base in June, according to Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists. Mr Kristensen confirmed the explosion in a tweet on Wednesday, suggesting the meteor could have been mistaken by some as a “Russian first strike”.
However, the US Air Force did not release a statement regarding the meteor, or even tweet about the phenomena.
When contacted for comment, a representative for the secretary of the Air Force public affairs told The Independent: "We’re not providing any comment on that, except that it didn’t impact operations at Thule."
Reporting meteor explosions is not typically a job of the Air Force, though it would be considered commonplace for any military branch to at least acknowledge an incident of this magnitude near one of its bases.
The Thule Air Base public news site includes no information surrounding the meteor whatsoever, along with all other web domains associated with the base.
Still, the incident was confirmed in part by data published by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which showed an object travelling nearly 24.4 kilometres per second over Thule on 25 July around midnight.
Had the space rock broken through the Earth’s atmosphere at a slightly different angle, there could have been potentially fatal consequences.
For example, a large meteor struck Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, causing damage to nearly 7,000 buildings and injuring 1,500 people.
It remains unclear why the Air Force did not release a statement regarding the meteor last month. The military branch contacted its “space command” during the incident, the Military Times reported in a piece debunking claims about the explosion.
Those claims, which suggested the Air Force base was destroyed by the meteor, may have been exacerbated by a lack of public information surrounding the incident.
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