Several news outlets have highlighted the fact that a massive asteroid may strike Earth one day before 2020, US Presidential Election, which is scheduled to take place on November 3. The news has sparked some concern, especially since a lot of negative events took place this year.
While the headlines make it sound like a major threat, asteroid 2018VP1 is quite far from being one. The rock was spotted by researchers in 2018 when it was at a distance of 450,000 kilometers (or 280,000 miles) away from our planet.
The Apollo-class asteroid follows a two-year orbital period that will bring it towards Earth in November. It is estimated that it will come within less than 5,000 kilometers, which is close. Current calculations infer that there is one in 240 chances for an impact that will reach Earth.
Even if the asteroid manages to enter a collision trajectory, it will not be able to deal significant damage, since it has the diameter of an average car and it is likely that it would burn into the atmosphere and vanish into nothingness.
No risk for now
As such, 2018VP1 does not pose any risk for Earth at this point, since it doesn’t have what it takes to be classified as a killer asteroid. According to NASA, a dangerous asteroid has to have a diameter of at least 140 meters (460 feet), while the massive asteroid that triggered the extinction of dinosaurs measured at least 10 kilometers (or 6 miles).
NASA and other space agencies across the world are also hard at work on the development of new and more accurate detection methods that could be used to identify and track Near-Earth Objects with a higher accuracy rate.
A spacecraft that could be used to alter the trajectory followed by high-risk asteroids is also being tested.