Don’t count your chickens just yet—2020 has another surprise for us.
The end of 2020 is mere months away, but it looks like we aren’t getting a break just yet. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory discovered that a truck-sized asteroid is zooming towards Earth and is expected to come close to our planet on November 2, the day before the United States' presidential election. The asteroid, known as 2018VP1, was first identified in 2018 at California’s Palomar Observatory and has been making its way across the galaxy.
Don’t stress too much, though. We aren’t expected to get to Armageddon or Deep Impact levels. According to NASA’s data, 2018VP1 has a 0.41% chance of entering the planet’s atmosphere. Even if it did, the asteroid would simply disintegrate due to its small size.
"Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approximately 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth. If it were to enter our planet's atmosphere, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size," NASA tweeted.
Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! It currently has a 0.41% chance of entering our planet’s atmosphere, but if it did, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size.— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 23, 2020
"NASA has been directed by Congress to discover 90% of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters (459 feet) in size and reports on asteroids of any size," NASA said in a statement to The Hill.
2018VP1 has had close encounters with Earth before, including when it was discovered in 2018. The asteroid is also expected to come back into our area of the galaxy after a two-year orbit around the sun. During this orbit, it will be between 48,000 and 260,000 miles of our atmosphere, according to NASA. To put that into perspective, the International Space Station is 254 miles above Earth’s atmosphere.
Asteroids of this size are particularly hard to spot unless they get extremely close to the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA did report though that an asteroid flew just 1,830 miles over the southern Indian Ocean last week, making it the closest non-impacting asteroid to have ever zoomed past Earth.
"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 Paul Chodas, director of Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). “Our calculations show that this asteroid got turned by 45 degrees or so as it swung by our planet," he added.
So, what do you think about the asteroid hurtling towards Earth? Let us know in the comments!