As if 2020 weren’t crazy enough already, an asteroid is heading towards Earth just before Election Day.
According to NASA JPL’s Center for Near Objects Studies, the 2018VP1 space rock will fly over Earth on November 2, a day before the US presidential election.
At 6.5 feet in diameter, it’s not considered a “potentially dangerous” near-Earth object (NEO), but the space agency is keeping an eye out for it and other asteroids like it nonetheless. It was first observed on November 3, 2018 and last 13 days later.
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Based on the 21 observations NASA made on the asteroid, there would be three potential impacts. However, the probability of a direct impact is less than 0.41%, NASA noted.
Fox News has contacted NASA with a request for comment.
On August 16, a similar-sized asteroid, 2020 HQ, became the closest space rock on record to fly over Earth. NASA couldn’t see it because it flew over Earth towards the sun.
A NASA spokesperson told Fox News that “similar asteroids” up to 2020 HQ “would have disintegrated in Earth’s atmosphere had they been hit.” The spokesperson added that the agency is working on a “space infrared telescope which will have a better ability to identify similar asteroids”.
“Potentially dangerous” near-Earth objects are defined as space objects that are within 0.05 astronomical units and measure over 460 feet in diameter, according to NASA. According to a 2018 report by Planetary.org, there are over 18,000 NEOs.
A NASA spokesperson told Fox News that “similar asteroids” up to 2020 HQ “would have disintegrated in Earth’s atmosphere had they been hit.” The spokesperson added that the agency is working on a “space infrared telescope which will have a better ability to identify similar asteroids.”
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that NASA has missed a NEO similar to 2020 HQ. In February, Dutch researchers discovered 11 “potentially dangerous objects” that are not on NASA’s list of “potentially dangerous” near-Earth objects, using advanced artificial intelligence.
NASA unveiled a 20-page plan in 2018 that details the steps the United States should take to better prepare for near-Earth objects, such as asteroids and comets that are within 30 million kilometers of the planet. .
A recent study showed that Americans prefer a space program that focuses on the potential impacts of asteroids rather than sending humans back to the Moon or Mars.
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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in April 2019 that an asteroid attack was not to be taken lightly and was perhaps the greatest threat to Earth.
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