Asteroid to Possibly Enter Earth’s Atmosphere


Art by Shaine Salonga

Astroid coming towards Earth just in time for the Presidential election.

Shaine Salonga, The Scroll, Staff Writer

A global pandemic, racial injustice, heated political climate, celebrity deaths, natural disasters, and many other unfortunate events have occurred in the course of 2020. It’s been a crazy year so far,  and unfortunately,  the outrageousness is not over.

“It does feel as if 2020 has been snowballing into a pretty weird year. Every month there seems to be a new piece of news that contributes to the overall strangeness of 2020,” says Linsey Towles, a senior at Saugus High School.

On November 2, the day before the U.S. Presidential elections, Asteroid 2018VPI has the potential to come within Earth’s atmosphere. Of all the days in the year, it had to be the day before presidential elections. 

Asteroid 2018VP1, first discovered in November of 2018 at the Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, is currently headed back in the Earth’s direction due to it’s two-year orbital cycle. It is expected by NASA scientists to pass within 4,994.76 kilometers of Earth, which is close for a celestial object. Scientists have yet to rule out a potential impact, however, the asteroid has a 0.41 percent or 1 in 240 chance of entering Earth’s atmosphere. There is a slim but present possibility. 

According to ScienceAlert, an asteroid must be at least 460 feet big in order to have a dangerous impact on Earth. Asteroid 2018VP1 is only 6 and ½ feet big, which is the size of a refrigerator, reported by NASA scientists. It has also been stated that the election day asteroid is expected to disintegrate within our atmosphere and cause little to no damage to the surface. 

“Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth!” tweeted NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office on August 23. “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.”

The Election Day asteroid is not the only asteroid that’s had a close collision with Earth. There are asteroids detected to pass near Earth in the future, and some asteroids already flew close by our planet in the past. On August 15, an asteroid about the size of a car was only 1,800 miles away from hitting Earth, and it was completely undetected by scientists. Asteroids are constantly flying all over the galaxy, we will just have to hope that a doomsday asteroid will not be heading towards us anytime soon, especially since we don’t have the technology to escape the fate of what it will bring us.

Towles says that, “The possibility of that happening, no matter how slim, can be pretty scary. It’s just a reminder that anything could happen, especially in 2020. It definitely would have been bad if the asteroid was bigger, and I am very glad we got lucky in that sense.”

If the Election Day asteroid  ends up heading towards our planet, the result will be devastating for Asteroid 2019VP1, but not for Earth. 2020 has been a disastrous and negatively eventful year so far, but no need to worry about an asteroid ruining Election Day.