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Just ahead of Election Day, near-Earth asteroid will make a close approach

Just ahead of Election Day, near-Earth asteroid will make a close approach. As the anticipation builds for what is being called the most important U.S. election of our lifetime, scientists are eagerly awaiting an entirely different type of event. On November 2nd, an asteroid that was discovered in 2018 is expected to pass relatively very close to the Earth

Regardless of its close encounter, however, the space rock known as 2018VP1 does not pose a threat to our planet. According to NASA, the asteroid is too small to do any damage, even if it does reach Earth’s atmosphere.

“Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 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 Asteroid Watch tweeted on August 23.

The asteroid was first discovered in 2018 by scientists at the Zwicky Transient Facility at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. During the two years that have followed, experts have struggled to monitor the space rock because it is so small. Just ahead of Election Day, near-Earth asteroid will make a close approach

Since 1998, NASA has tracked thousands of near-Earth objects, none of which are known to be potentially hazardous to our planet in the near future. 

Back in August, a car-size asteroid flew within about 1,830 miles of Earth, which is the closest flyby ever recorded. Because the asteroid was moving toward us from the direction of the sun, it went completely undetected until about six hours after its approach.

Paul Chodas is the director of NASA’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies.”There’s not much we can do about detecting inbound asteroids coming from the sunward direction, as asteroids are detected using optical telescopes only (like ZTF), and we can only search for them in the night sky,” Chodas told Business Insider.

“The idea is that we discover them on one of their prior passages by our planet, and then make predictions years and decades in advance to see whether they have any possibility of impacting.”

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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