Bang before 2020 election? Asteroid 2018 VP1 will fly close to Earth a day before presidential voting

NASA’s close approach database states that the asteroid will probably come as close as 4,700 miles


                            Bang before 2020 election? Asteroid 2018 VP1 will fly close to Earth a day before presidential voting
(Getty Images)

An asteroid, known as 2018 VP1, will probably come very close to the Earth just a day before the 2020 US presidential election, the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated. According to reports, the asteroid was spotted in November 2018 followed by a 13-day observation arc. It was seen from Palomar Observatory in San Diego County. However, since then it has not been seen.

But recently, NASA said that it has been estimated that the object will fly close to the Earth on November 2, a day before the presidential election, which is scheduled for November 3. NASA’s close approach database stated that the asteroid will probably come as close as 4,700 miles or maybe more like 260,000 miles.

However, reports have claimed that there is nothing to be worried about because the chance of the asteroid entering into the Earth’s atmosphere is only a 1 in 240 (0.41%), and also it is only around 7 feet in diameter. But if somehow it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it would only look really bright before breaking up into tiny pieces.

Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale developed by astronomers to determine the potential hazard due to an asteroid has rated 2018 VP1 a "-3.57". “Actual scale values less than -2 reflect events for which there are no likely consequences, while Palermo Scale values between -2 and 0 indicate situations that merit careful monitoring,” the logarithmic scale noted.

This comes as scientists detect a comparatively small, SUV-sized asteroid quietly passing by the Earth a few days ago. But despite being very close to the Earth, the object -- named 2020 QG -- missed hitting the planet. Even if the space rock did hit the Earth, it was too small to cause any significant damage, experts have said. According to NASA, 2020 QG measures 10 to 20 feet, which is very small by "asteroid standards".

Scientists have said that it was the closest flyby ever detected since it passed less than 3,000 kilometers from the Earth above the southern Indian Ocean on August 16 at 12:08 am EDT. "The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the sun. We didn't see it coming," Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said.

Chodas also explained that tiny close-in asteroids travel at high speeds and spotting them is an achievement in the first place. “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 added.

The asteroid was being observed by Zwicky Transient Facility, an astronomical survey at the Palomar Observatory in California. The object was detected only six hours after the flyby. Later, it was being targeted by two European observatories. "It was the closest asteroid ever observed to pass by our planet without hitting it, and the fifth closest overall, if we include the four small asteroids that actually impacted," the European Space Agency said in a statement.

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