Scientists are warning that there is a chance — albeit a small one — that an asteroid could strike Earth this fall. Moreover, the current projected date of impact is none other than November 2, the day before the United States 2020 presidential election.
According to a news release from the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies at NASA, the asteroid is known as 2018 VP1 and has been on the radar of scientists since November 2018 — when the country’s midterms were held — when it was first spotted by the Palomar Observatory in California.
However, despite dire warnings, there is some good news in the release. For starters, the asteroid is very small — especially by space standards. According to Forbes, it is currently estimated to have a diameter of “no more than a few meters.” This means that it is likely that the asteroid would disintegrate in the planet’s atmosphere before coming close to hitting land or sea.
Even more comfortingly, scientists have currently estimated that the odds of impact currently rest about 0.41 percent, and NASA has deemed the flying space object to be a -3 on the impact-risk Palermo Scale. This means that it is “not worthy of serious concern.”
Other details given about the asteroid include its speed at the hypothetical impact, which is currently calculated to be around 32793.486 miles per hour. Physicists also noted that even if the asteroid does not hit the planet, it is still flying close by. The path could be as near as 4,700 miles, or as far away as 260,000 miles — which is a distance farther than the moon.
However, what is different about this asteroid is that experts are aware of its path before its arrival. Most of the time, astrophysicists have little warning before their arrival, and a majority are often spotted just days before their close approach. Sometimes, physicists become aware of an asteroid after it has passed by.
In addition, its estimated arrival date around the election has sparked jokes on social media.
“Okay, I did have ‘asteroid could hit Earth’ on my 2020 bingo card. But on election eve? C’mon…” joked actress Alyssa Milano in a tweet.
“A little on the nose, 2020,” similarly tweeted American science fiction writer John Scalzi.
While 2018 VP1 is likely to cause little, if any, damage to the planet, it is well known that an asteroid was the cause of the massive extinction for the dinosaurs. As was previously covered by The Inquisitr, researchers recently learned that the object hit the globe at the deadliest possible angle, which is partly why it had such a devastating effect.