Top scientist Hans Kristensen caught the world’s attention with a single tweet on August 1, 2018. It read, “Meteor explodes with 2.1 kilotons force 43 km above missile early warning radar at Thule Air Base.” Yet nothing at all had been heard from the U.S. Air Force about this troubling incident, which had happened a week earlier on July 25. So just what was going on?
Meteorites themselves are a far from unusual phenomenon. But this meteorite was certainly worthy of note since it had burst into the Earth’s atmosphere above the U.S.A.F. base at Thule in Greenland. Among other roles the base, set in the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle, forms part of America’s early warning defense system against missile attack.
Thousands of meteorites hit the Earth every year, but most of those are tiny rock fragments. Since they mostly land in the sea or on uninhabited territory, the majority go unremarked. Actually, most meteors that enter our atmosphere – up to 95 percent – don’t make it to the planet’s surface at all. The heat generated as they speed through the air destroys them.