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Asteroid could strike Earth a day before election

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

According to NASA, an asteroid with roughly the diameter of a refrigerator could hit the Earth on November second, the day before the United States’ presidential election. 

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson announced on Instagram, stating “Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 25,000 miles per hour. It may buzz-cut Earth on November second, the day before the Presidential Election, but it is not big enough to cause harm. So if the world ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe.”

NASA previously identified this asteroid in 2018, hence the name, and put its chances of actually hitting the Earth at less than one percent. On August 23rd, NASA’s Asteroid Watch shared a post on Twitter which stated, “Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approximately 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! 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.” 

NASA has been cataloging Near-Earth Objects, NEOs, since 1998, and has since then recorded over 19,000 of them. To qualify as a NEO, it has to come within 4.6 million miles of Earth, or about 19.5 times the distance to the Moon. Near-Earth Objects are typically not dangerous because it would need to be over 80 feet in diameter to make it through our atmosphere, and rocks this size would likely cause little or no damage. 

A Potentially Hazardous Object, PHO, is a NEO that is over 450 feet in diameter. An asteroid or comet this size would cause significant damage in the region where it hit. In order for a PHO to wipe out the entirety of life on Earth, it would need to be approximately 60 miles across, which gives a little hope because a space-rock of that size would almost certainly be spotted many years before it would be poised to hit Earth. 

ARTICLE: JOSEPH MODICA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

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