Last month a 2.1 kiloton meteorite nearly wiped out a US Air Force base, so why is the military keeping quiet about it?
Last month, the meteor exploded just above an early warning signal for the strategic US military base. This raised concerns as to why USA's Air Force kept quiet about it.
The US Air Force reportedly made no mention when a meteorite hit the earth and exploded with 2.1 kilotons of force last month. An object of unknown size traveling at 24.4 kilometers per second allegedly struck earth 43 kilometers north of Thule Air Base on 25th of July, 2018 in Greenland, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted about the impact. Nonetheless, the internet could not digest the fact that the USA's air force failed to report the said event. That said, Kristensen raised concerns after there was no public warning issued by the US government.
"Had it entered at a more perpendicular angle, it would have struck the earth with significantly greater force," he writes on Business Insider. On February 15, 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor, a 20-meter space rock exploded in the air over Russia without warning, Kristensen recalled. The space projectile was "brighter than the sun" and almost "as huge as the size of a house", according to reports at the time. It was also said to be visible from 100 kilometers away.
Back then, due to glass from windows smashing among other effects of the meteor's impact as it crashed on our terra firma, over 1500 people were injured in the biggest known human toll from a meteor hit. "The Chelyabinsk event drew widespread attention to what more needs to be done to detect even larger asteroids before they strike our planet," said NASA Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson. "This was a cosmic wake-up call."
After the said incident in 2013, the International Asteroid Warning Network was formed, intended to assist the defense sector in the detection and response to such incoming objects. However, the meteor strike that occurred last month drew a minimal response from authorities: “Thule is fine,” read one media query response.
The non-reportage was first brought highlighted by Australian media, prompting a frenzy of reporter calls to NASA spokesmen who were reasonably surprised. A defense official said on condition of anonymity that the Air Force did call its space command, which might confirm that the defense wing already as a space command in place after President Trump's announcement. Another official, Steve Brady, who is also a spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, said, “No, we don’t have any reports of damage, why are we getting calls on this now?”
Reporting meteor explosions does not come under any of the duties assigned to the Air Force, though it would be expected for any military branch to at least acknowledge an incident of this magnitude near one of its bases. That said, asteroids entering the earth's atmosphere is a relatively common phenomenon. A meteor is said to have struck our planet every 13 days over a 20-year-period, according to a study referenced by Kristensen. Having said that, most of these space objects disintegrate as they enter the atmosphere and are rendered "harmless".