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Just in case a pandemic, a subsequent toilet paper shortage, anarchy in the streets, and political polarization weren’t enough, an asteroid is heading our way just before Election Day in November.
The celestial object measuring about 6-1/2 feet known as 2018VP1 is set to arrive on November 2, 2020. Scientists at the Palomar Observatory in California first discovered it in 2018.
Fortunately, researchers say that the chance of a direct impact on Earth is just 0.41 percent based on 21 observations and three potential impacts, and thus the space rock is apparently not deemed potentially dangerous or hazardous. “If it does manage to enter the Earth’s atmosphere, it would appear as an extremely bright meteor and break up into tiny pieces,” WHIO explained.
Keep in mind, however, that this is 2020, and everything seems up for grabs. As TMZ quipped, “With our luck in 2020, who’s betting that it will miss?”
As a thought experiment, would it be entirely out of line to contemplate the asteroid crashing into a mail-in-voting dropbox?
So far, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has not responded to media requests for further comments about 2018VP1.
According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, a so-called near-Earth object (an asteroid or comet) that is potentially hazardous is one that comes within 0.05 astronomical units of an Earth orbit with a diameter of about 500 feet or more. There are said to be about 18,000 NEOs floating around in space.
Earlier this month, our planet had a close encounter with an asteroid. “On Aug. 16, an asteroid of similar size, 2020 QG, became the closest space rock ever recorded to fly past Earth. NASA was unable to see it, as it flew past the Earth from the direction of the sun,” Fox News recalled.
Last year, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a planetary defense conference that a potential asteroid strike — which has provided fodder for sci-fi movies — is serious business.
“We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about movies. This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know right now to host life, and that is the planet Earth. “We have to use our systems, use our capabilities to ultimately get a lot more data, and we have to do it faster.”
NASA has developed a plan for detecting and tracking NEOs, which includes launching “its first asteroid defense mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, in 2022” with the participation of Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
As part of a diversity and inclusion initiative, the U.S. space agency recently announced that it is dropping cosmic nicknames for planets, galaxies, and nebulae that it considers insensitive, objectionable, unwelcoming, and possibly “actively harmful.”
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