An asteroid has a slim chance of putting us out of our misery on November 2 as it heads toward Earth one day before the US election, according to NASA.
Named “2018 VP1,” the asteroid is pretty tiny, with an estimated diameter of 1.8 to 3.9 meters, NASA data show.
It’s only 0.41% likely to actually impact the Earth, CNN reported, but celestial objects that size tend to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere anyway, according to NASA.
Between the coronavirus pandemic, a reckoning with racial justice, sky-high depression and anxiety, election season, and murder hornets (which aren’t really invading the US, by the way) perhaps some are wishing the chances were a bit higher.
2018 VP1 has had a few close encounters with Earth before, dating back to 1970. It last visited in November of 2018, roughly when it was discovered at California’s Palomar Observatory.
It’s due back, after a two-year orbit around the sun, to come within 4,800 and 260,000 miles of our atmosphere, NASA data show. For reference, the International Space Station sits about 254 miles above the planet.
The size of asteroids like this one makes them hard to spot until they get close to Earth, but the majority pass by much farther away than the Moon, NASA said in a recent release.
In fact, one dubbed 2020 QG passed the earth just 1,830 miles above the Indian Ocean last week — the closest such encounter on record — and NASA didn’t even see it coming, they said.
“It’s quite an accomplishment to find these tiny close-in asteroids in the first place, because they pass by so fast,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
“There’s typically only a short window of a couple of days before or after close approach when this small of an asteroid is close enough to Earth to be bright enough but not so close that it moves too fast in the sky to be detected by a telescope,” he said.
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World news – US – NASA: A truck-sized asteroid is headed toward Earth one day before the November election