Asteroid Headed For Earth To End Year With A Bang
Ready for 2020 to end yet?
Well first, we have to survive the planet getting hit by an asteroid in November. Way to end the year with a bang, eh?
NASA scientists confirmed to news.com.au an asteroid named 2018VP1 is currently hurtling towards the Earth and will directly collide with the planet a day before the November 2 presidential elections in the U.S.
The 6.5-foot-diameter asteroid was first spotted by the Palomar Observatory in California two years ago.
In many ways, it seems like a fitting end to the general nightmare that is the year 2020.
...Or Maybe Not
The silver lining is that there’s only a 50-50 chance that the asteroid will actually hit Earth.
More accurately, the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said there’s a 0.41 percent chance that the asteroid will make contact with our planet.
Additionally, space scientists do not consider the asteroid a ‘potentially hazardous object’ due to its insignificant size.
“Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approximately 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth,” NASA said in a statement. “If it were to enter our planet’s atmosphere, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size.”
Busy Year For Asteroid Chasers
It’s turning out to be quite a year for NASA, which has direct orders from Congress to “discover 90% of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 459 feet in size and report on asteroids of any size.”
Earlier this week, a car-sized asteroid flew within 3,000 kilometers of the Earth, making the closes fly-by recorded on the planet.
Like the 2018VP1, it didn’t pose much of a threat to Earth and its inhabitants because of its small size. In fact, scientists failed to even detect that the asteroid was heading towards Earth until after it had flown by. It doesn’t mean it’s bereft of interest for scientists, though.
“It’s really cool to see a small asteroid come by this close, because we can see the Earth’s gravity dramatically bend its trajectory,” said CNEOS director Paul Chodas. “Our calculations show that this asteroid got turned by 45 degrees or so as it swung by our planet.”