The Military Times article No, a meteor did not destroy Thule Air Base as well as the Independent's article Air Force fails to acknowledge mysterious meteor that crashed to Earth near US military base both mention that Peterson Air Force Base (Thule Air Base) is still currently undestroyed.

The Independent says:

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.

and the linked article in The Aviationist Report: Meteor Made 2.1 Kiloton Explosion Over Air Force Space Command Base Thule, Greenland is quite an interesting read as well. I'd never seen a NASA Fireball and Bolide Report before.

The Military Times' article ends with:

Thule is home to a host of defense and NASA research assets; DoD’s sensors serve as an early warning system for potential incoming missiles. The base is the military’s northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic circle, according to the Air Force’s information page.

Question: What NASA research assets are at Thule? What kind of research is NASA doing there?

update: I was surprised that NASA has any research assets outside of the United States. However then I realized that the Deep Space Network sites in Spain and Australia might be considered research assets. Perhaps the one at Thule is there for geographical reasons as well?

enter image description here enter image description here

above left: "An early warning radar installation in Thule, Greenland" from here. Photo: USAF

right: "NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory showed the object’s reentry on their database." from here. Photo: JPL via Twitter

click for full size

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What does a search for 'NASA Thule base' tell you? $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Aug 4, 2018 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes if there's no answer in a few days, I'll write one myself. However it may not be as well-informed as someone more familliar with research at NASA facilities. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 5, 2018 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Hobbes I've done so. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 16, 2019 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


Okay I'll take the @Hobbes challenge.

Let's start with this short NASA video of (the late) Dr. Piers Sellers, OBE, climate scientist and NASA astronaut (STS-112, STS-121, STS-132):

Former astronaut and climate scientist Dr. Piers Sellers visits Thule, Greenland, one of the home bases for Operation IceBridge’s spring Arctic campaign. IceBridge is a 10-year airborne science mission measuring polar ice with a range of instruments including laser altimeters and radar. In recent days, Thule has seen an unusual amount of snow as well as cloud conditions more similar to early summertime months. For more information: www.nasa.gov/icebridge

Dr. Sellers says in the video:

“The world is warming, and it’s warming in the North, around the arctic, than anywhere else, by a factor of two and a half. It’s two and a half times increasing here compared to the global average, so this is where it’s all happening.

”And as a consequence, the ice is melting fast. It’s melting on the arctic ocean, and the ice mass on top of Greenland is melting and falling into the Atlantic.

”So we are mapping that using aircraft, and satellites when we can, and of course we’ve got people on the ground checking against these data as well.

So this is ground zero for global warming.

(multi-paragraph quotation rules)

In recent news about Greenland:

IceBridge is a major NASA effort to monitor ice at both the north and south poles. See for example Is this 70km crack in an ice shelf of Antarctica remarkable, or a regular occurrence? and also @NASA_ICE and https://ice.nasa.gov/

From the IceBridge portal at https://nsidc.org/icebridge/portal/map you can get an idea of some of the flights over Greenland. See also http://nsidc.org/data/icebridge/ and also http://icebridge.sr.unh.edu/icebridge/grn/

enter image description here

From Business Insider's This Is What Its Like To Live At The US' Most Remote Air Base (the last two images are not specifically NASA related, but associated with the air base:

NASA P-3B research aircraft Thule Air Base

above: "A sunny view of the ramp at Thule Air Base, Greenland, shortly after the NASA P-3B research aircraft arrived on Mar. 18, 2013." Jim Yungel/NASA

Thule Air Base, Greenland

above: "Panoramic view of Thule Air Base, Greenland, seen on Mar. 10, 2014." Christy Hansen/NASA

dog sled racing near Thule air base, Greenland

above: "A seasoned Greenlandic hunter and his dog sled racing team speeds into the home stretch toward the finish line March 30. Thule Air Base celebrated Armed Forces Day March 30-31 by inviting native Greenlandic residents to the base, some of whom traveled up to three days across the extremely cold environment by dog sled to attend the celebration." Master Sgt. Robert Brown/USAF

Thule Air Base, Greenalnd

Above: "1st Lt. Ariel Torgerson (left), 821st Support Squadron Communications Flight commander, issues the oath of enlistment to Staff Sgt. Eric Jennings, 821st SPTS, March 30 in view of Mount Dundas, Greenland. Tech." Sgt. Darrell Kinsey/USAF

For what is not at Thule, I've found this list in https://espo.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Thule%20Greenland%20Orientation%20v2014_1.pdf

  • Any major fast food outlets (McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, etc.)
  • Amusement parks
  • A clothing sales store (we now have a few items like stripes, black t-shirts, etc.)
  • Paved roads or sidewalks.
  • An 18-hole golf course (but we have 2ea. 9-hole courses **virtual)
  • A view of the ―Northern Lightsǁ (as we are about 500 miles too far north to see them (and if/when we do see them, they are the ―Southern Lights").
  • Spiders or snakes!!

NASA IceBridge's P3B during operation in Greenland:

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ RIP Piers Sellers, a stand-up guy. $\endgroup$ Aug 24, 2018 at 21:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble thank you for that, I've adjusted the wording. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 25, 2018 at 0:57

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