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Sunday, August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

HOUSTON – It’s 2020, year of all things terrible, so it should not come as a surprise that on top of global pandemic and murder hornets, there is an asteroid that scientists are watching that has a lot of people on the internet talking.

However, before you start packing your go-bags and finding secluded, underground shelter, there are a few things you should know about asteroid 2018 VP1.

How long has it been around?
The asteroid was first observed on Nov. 3, 2018, and has not been seen since Nov. 16, 2018, according to scientific data.

What is it?
According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the asteroid has been classified as an NEA or Near-Earth Asteroid. Each object classified into the category is put into one of four groups. The 2018 VP1 has been put into the “Apollo” group, which means it has an orbit that is larger than Earth’s but also intersects with Earth’s orbit.

You can see a diagram here.

How big is the asteroid?

Data shows the asteroid is about 0.002 km in diameter, which is equivalent to about 6.6 feet.
Is it going to hit Earth?

The asteroid has not been seen since November 2018, and even then, scientists only had about 12 days to observe it and collect as much data as possible.

Scientists are able to know exactly where Earth is in its orbit, but due to the short observation period and its lengthy absence from observation, it is difficult to predict anything with 100% certainty.

That being said, astronomists were able to give a calculated estimate on when and where 2018 VP1 will cross Earth’s orbit again and if it will impact the planet.

According to their calculations, the asteroid has a .41% chance of hitting Earth. That means there is a 1 in 240 chance that it will make an impact or a 99.95% chance that it will miss Earth.

You can go online for more data or look at the impact risk summary for 2018 VP1.

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