If you have seemed on the information at the moment, you would be forgiven for considering an enormous asteroid is on observe to collide with Earth the day earlier than the 2020 US Presidential election.
At least that is the takeaway from fairly a couple of information shops. And, understandably, some individuals are freaking out. In a yr with a literal pandemic, an asteroid collision actually simply places a cherry on the highest of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad cake.
But we now have excellent news for you! Despite the headlines, there isn’t any want to fear about this explicit asteroid – referred to as 2018VP1.
2018VP1 is just not a shock to scientists. As its identify suggests, it was found again in 2018 whereas it was round 450,000 kilometres (280,000 miles) away from Earth.
It’s received a two-year orbital interval, and it is at present on its approach again round once more in direction of us.
This time although, the Apollo-class asteroid is estimated to come inside 4,994.76 kilometres of Earth. That’s actually shut in house phrases.
And as a result of it is so shut, there is a slight probability (1 in 240 or 0.41 %) that it will hit Earth on 2 November 2020 – the day earlier than the US Presidential election.
Asteroid 2018VP1 may be very small, approx. 6.5 ft, and poses no risk to Earth! It at present has a 0.41% probability of coming into our planet’s ambiance, but when it did, it could disintegrate due to its extraordinarily small dimension.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 23, 2020
Considering the stakes and the yr we’re all having, perhaps a 1 in 240 probability nonetheless feels a bit excessive for consolation. We get it.
Well, we now have even higher information. Even if 2018VP1 is an asteroid fortunate sufficient to have a date with our pale blue dot, the overwhelming odds are that it nonetheless will not harm you.
Why? Well, it is solely the dimensions of a small automobile – round 2 metres (7 ft) in diameter. That type of asteroid simply does not have the girth for large-scale injury.
NASA’s list of potentially hazardous objects has a reduce off minimal of 140 metres (460 ft). The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was at minimal 10 kilometres (6 miles) in diameter on influence, after it misplaced a few of its quantity in its descent.
Asteroids the dimensions of 2018VP1 will simply dissipate within the ambiance lengthy earlier than they make it to the bottom.
So, though there’s each probability that sooner or later a killer asteroid would possibly lastly crash into Earth, 2018VP1 is not that asteroid.
But that does not imply we will not be ready for asteroids that do pose a danger. NASA and different house companies world wide are working on making us better at detecting these ‘near earth objects’, and sooner or later, potentially even deflecting them.
So, for the second at the least, the US November election will likely be going forward – or, at the least, this asteroid is not going to put a dent within the democratic course of.
We’re undecided how these tales received began, however not lengthy after, NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted a response explaining the dimensions, and (very low) probability of influence.
2020 has been fairly the yr, however at the least we do not have to add ‘lethal asteroid’ to the checklist of horrors. At least, not but.