Asteroid Could Strike Earth Before Election Day But Won’t Cause Major Damage, NASA Says
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."
Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! It currently has a 0.41% chance of… https://t.co/gPuMmJzvSm— NASA Asteroid Watch (@NASA Asteroid Watch)1598201273.0
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.
#asteroid 2020 QG, discovered by @ztfsurvey and roughly 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) across, is very small by aste… https://t.co/KDYzdvQbpX— NASA Asteroid Watch (@NASA Asteroid Watch)1597840264.0
This happens several times a year without incident, according to NASA.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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