Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Asteroid Could Strike Earth Before Election Day But Won’t Cause Major Damage, NASA Says

Science
Asteroid Could Strike Earth Before Election Day But Won’t Cause Major Damage, NASA Says
An asteroid slated to pass by Earth the day before the U.S. election would burn up if it entered Earth's atmosphere. MARHARYTA MARKO / iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you thought 2020 couldn't get any more dramatic, think again.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) predicts that an asteroid with a 0.41 percent chance of hitting Earth will pass by our planet Nov. 2, the day before U.S. election day, The Independent reported.

But you shouldn't worry about the asteroid doing any real damage, NASA was quick to point out.

"Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth!" NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted Sunday. "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."

2018VP1 was first discovered in November 2018 from the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, WGME reported. At the time, it was 450,000 kilometers (280,000 miles) away from Earth, ScienceAlert explained. But it follows a two-year orbital cycle and is currently headed back in our direction.

It is expected to pass within 4,994.76 kilometers (approximately 3,104 miles) of Earth, which is close for a celestial object, and the reason it has a one in 240 chance of hitting us. The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said there were three potential impacts, according to The Independent.

But, "based on 21 observations spanning 12.968 days," it did not think a direct hit was likely.

Further, its small size means it would burn up if it entered the atmosphere. To be considered dangerous, an asteroid must be at least 460 feet, according to ScienceAlert. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was six miles across when it struck.

Congress has tasked NASA with finding 90 percent of the near-Earth asteroids that are 460 feet or more in diameter, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But these larger, more threatening asteroids are actually much easier to detect from far away.

On Aug. 16, an SUV-sized asteroid called 2020 QG broke a record for coming closer to Earth than any other known near-Earth asteroid when it passed 1,830 miles above the Southern Indian Ocean.

"It's quite an accomplishment to find these tiny close-in asteroids in the first place, because they pass by so fast," CNEOS Director Paul Chodas said in a press release. "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."

2020 QG was 10 to 20 feet across, about double the size of 2018VP1, and it too would have disintegrated into a fireball if it made impact.

This happens several times a year without incident, according to NASA.

A couple react as they go through their destroyed mobile home following Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 27, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

In this autumn of horrific fires and deadly floods, it's easy to overlook one bit of promising news on the climate front: Some major U.S. media coverage of the crisis is finally getting better.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Since April 2020, farmer support for Trump has fallen from 89 percent to 71 percent, according to an August 2020 survey by DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Steve Smith / Getty Imagess

By Leanna First-Arai

In a push to capture the rural vote, 62 percent of which went to Trump in 2016, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are ramping up efforts to appeal to farmers and ranchers.

Read More Show Less

Trending

An electric car at an eVgo charging station in a parking lot in Dublin, California on June 20, 2018. Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.

Read More Show Less

A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.

Read More Show Less
Long-finned pilot whales are seen during a 1998 stranding in Marion Bay in Tasmania, Australia. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch