Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Asteroid Could Hit Earth Day Before Election


An asteroid the size of a refrigerator traveling at 25K mph may buzz the Earth, Neil deGrasse Tyson said. Although, it’s important to note the space rock is not expected to cause a lot of damage if any, there’s no better message that space could send to the U.S. prior to the election.

The asteroid’s diameter is estimated to be the size of a refrigerator and could strike the Earth the day before the November election, according to celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson said the space rock, known as 2018VP1, is hurtling towards Earth at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour and may clip the planet on November 2nd.

It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2nd, the day before the Presidential Election,” he wrote on Instagram.

But he added that the flying object is nothing to lose sleep over since “it’s not big enough to cause harm.”⠀

“So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe,” he said.

“2018 VP1” is projected to come 0.02 times the distance between the earth and the moon. Given that the moon is 239,000 miles away, 0.02 equates to 4,780 miles of the Earth according to the Center for Near Objects Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA had previously identified the asteroid hurtling toward Earth, but put its chances of actually striking at less than 1 percent, Fox News reported.

“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,” the space agency said at the time.

Even if it does hit the Earth it will disintegrate in the atmosphere and simply be an interesting fireball in the sky according to the B612 Foundation.according to the Center for Near Objects Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Here are the facts:

-Asteroid 2018 VP1 is quite small at only about 6 ft.

-Analysis of this asteroid’s trajectory is based on only 21 observations spanning just under 13 days (from November 2, 2018 – November 16, 2018). The fact that there are relatively few observations of 2018 VP1 means there is considerable uncertainty in the orbit, which means the best we can say right now is that the asteroid will likely pass Earth somewhere between a few thousand miles from Earth and a few hundred thousand miles from Earth! In other words , it may not even come close!

-The impact probability with Earth is about 0.4%

-Even if it hits the atmosphere, it will just be a bright meteor in the sky

2018VP1 has a diameter of all but 2 meters, or around the size of a small automobile or refridgerator, and would likely burn up into an impressive fireball after entering the Earth’s atmosphere before reaching the ground. According to NASA, such an event happens about once every year.

As per NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Programme, asteroids that are 140 meters or larger (bigger than a small football stadium) are of “the greatest concern” due to the level of devastation their impact is capable of causing.

Last year NASA and the U.S. government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) participated in an exercise with other international partners to deal with asteroids that could be a future impact danger. Last year, NASA also awarded SpaceX a $69 million contract to redirect an asteroid off its intended path under the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) program, which uses a technique known as a kinetic impactor. The mission involves sending one or more SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets into the path of an approaching near-earth object, in this case, Didymos’ small moon in October 2022.

The next potential asteroid that could cause significant damage if it hit Earth is expected to fly through our solar system and pass near Earth on April 13, 2029. The giant icy space rock—known as 99942 Apophis, for the Egyptian God of Chaos—is 1,100 feet wide (340 meters) and will speed by at over 67,000 miles per hour. According to NASA, Apophis has a 2.7% chance to hit Earth—a very low probability.

In a year where unpredictable disasters seem routine, it’s nice to know that we don’t have to worry about an asteroid impacting the Earth too.

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