An asteroid is scheduled to cruise through Earth’s neighbourhood ahead of the United States presidential election, but reports of it slamming into the U.S. on Nov. 2 are greatly exaggerated, experts say.
In other words, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and the asteroid-killing crew of Armageddon can stand down. For now.
The asteroid, dubbed 2018 VP1, is relatively tiny and poses a 0.41 per cent chance of actually hitting the planet, NASA said Sunday. And even if it did, it would likely burn up in the atmosphere “due to its extremely small size.”
NASA’s Asteroid Watch says the space rock is roughly two metres (6.5 feet) in diameter, and “poses no threat to Earth.”
The space agency sought to clear the air after a flurry of outlandish headlines about the asteroid, including some stories with images of a moon-sized rock obliterating the Earth just before the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.
Social media users pounced on some of the more sensational reports about the asteroid, with many jokingly suggesting that a world-ending collision might be a relief from the dire news cycle of 2020.
“A plague, hurricanes, murder hornets, asteroids, starvation, fires,” Twitter user @NYinLA2121 wrote. “Sunday funday in America.”
“Sorry, but an asteroid the size of an NBA point guard is not going to get done what we need done,” Twitter user @allahliker wrote, in a joke that received more than 2,000 likes.
“Does that asteroid coming for Earth have a Twitter account?” another user asked. “I want to have a chat/give it my exact location.”
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“The key word there is close,” astronomer and blogger Phil Plait tweeted. “Sorry, people who want to blame 2020 on everything. This time, the year came through.”
The asteroid was first discovered in 2018 and is expected to pass Earth on Nov. 2, according to NASA’s close-approach data. Its most likely path will bring it within about 419,000 km of Earth, NASA says. That’s 1.09 times the distance between the Earth and the moon, or much further away than some of the other near-misses recorded in 2020.
NASA has reported two close calls with asteroids that the organization didn’t see coming this year. The first was a so-called “city killer” asteroid that was said to be up to 200 m in diameter, which hurtled past the Earth in June. That asteroid came from the direction of the sun, which helped obscure it from astronomers’ sensors until after it had passed. It passed at a distance of about 306,000 km, which is inside the moon’s orbit around Earth.
The sun also concealed a smaller, car-sized space rock that passed Earth by earlier this month. That asteroid, dubbed 2020 QG, whipped by at a distance of only 2,950 km from Earth, making it the closest near-miss with an asteroid on record. However, the space rock would have been too small to do any damage if it had fallen into our atmosphere, NASA said.
Hundreds of millions of space rocks fly past Earth or burn up in its atmosphere each year, NASA says. Few of them are large enough to make it down to the surface.
The Chicxulub meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was an estimated 16 km wide.
There are no society-ending — or election-foiling — asteroids in the immediate forecast.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
NASA Says Bus-Size Asteroid Narrowly Missed Earth Thursday – Voice of America
Scientists at the U.S. space agency NASA say a small asteroid – roughly the size of a bus – passed close to Earth on Thursday, flying just 22,000 kilometers above the surface, within the orbit of geostationary satellites that ring the planet.
While the proximity to Earth might raise alarm, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California said even if the asteroid had entered the earth’s atmosphere, it almost certainly would have broken up and become a bright meteor.
The asteroid, known as 2020 SW, is about five to ten meters wide and was first discovered on September 18 by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.
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NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) — part of the JPL — then did follow-up observations and confirmed its orbital trajectory, ruling out any chance of impact.
CNEOS director Paul Chodas says an object this size, this close to earth, is not uncommon. He says, “In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”
After passing the Earth, the asteroid will continue its journey around the Sun, not returning to Earth’s vicinity until 2041, when NASA says it will make a much more distant flyby.
The space agency says they believe there are over 100 million small asteroids like 2020 SW, but they are hard to discover unless they get very close to Earth.
In 2005, Congress assigned NASA the goal of finding 90 percent of the near-Earth asteroids that are about 140 meters or larger in size. These larger asteroids pose a much greater threat if they were to impact, and they can be detected much farther away from Earth, because they’re simply much brighter than the small ones.
Chodas says NASA’s asteroid surveys are getting better all the time, and the agency now expects to find asteroids the size of 2020 SW a few days before they come near Earth.
Bus-sized asteroid to pass close to the earth: NASA – Asia Times
As interstellar traffic goes, this is a close one.
The object, known as 2020 SW, will fly just 13,000 miles above the Earth’s surface on 24 September, NASA has said.
That is closer than the artificial objects that are in orbit around our planet, and power GPS, televisions and more — a close call, indeed.
The object was only discovered on the 18th of September by a NASA-funded project in Arizona, and further observations were able to track its trajectory and rule out any chance that it might collide with Earth, the report said.
After making its pass, it will then fly off to continue its trip around the solar system. It will not come back anywhere near Earth until 2041, when it will be at an even further distance.
The asteroid is thought to be about five to ten meters wide, roughly the size of a “small school bus,” the space agency said. The size is estimated from the brightness of the object, NASA said.
It is not expected to hit Earth — and if you’re reading this, it probably missed us.
However, if it were to hit, it would explode into a fireball as it made its way through the atmosphere, becoming a bright meteor of the kind that is sometimes visible from Earth’s surface, the report said.
Despite repeated suggests that the world is under threat from such asteroids, their visits are fairly common and never pose any great risk to people on Earth.
“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”
Experts have repeatedly suggested that asteroids more generally could pose more of a threat, and space agencies including NASA conduct “planetary defence” work intended to improve the chances of spotting an asteroid and dealing with any that might possible lead to any danger, the report said.
NASA has been tasked with finding 90% of the near-Earth asteroids that are 140 meters or bigger.
Such asteroids are far more dangerous than those akin to 2020 SW, since their larger size means they are able to make it through the atmosphere and potentially cause problems when they crash into Earth.
Their larger size also makes them easier to spot, however. There are many more smaller ones of sizes similar to 2020 SW, but their smaller size and lower brightness makes them difficult to see until they get close by.
“The detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid surveys are continually improving, and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a couple days before they come near our planet,” said Chodas.
Teenage British activist stages climate protest on Arctic ice floe – SaltWire Network
By Natalie Thomas
ABOARD ‘ARCTIC SUNRISE’ (Reuters) – Like many of her generation, Mya-Rose Craig feels strongly that adults have failed to take the urgent action needed to tackle global warming and so she has headed to the Arctic Ocean to protest.
Armed with a placard reading ‘Youth Strike for Climate”, the 18-year-old British activist is staging the most northerly protest in a series of youth strikes worldwide.
The strikes, made famous by Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, are resuming after a lull caused by the global coronavirus pandemic to draw public attention back to the threat posed by climate change.
“I’m here to… try and make a statement about how temporary this amazing landscape is and how our leaders have to make a decision now in order to save it,” she told Reuters Television as she stood with her placard on the edge of the Arctic sea ice.
“I absolutely think that my generation has always had to think about climate change… which is why as we’ve got older there’s been this massive wave of just this need for change, this demand for change when we realised the grown-ups aren’t going to solve this so we have to do it ourselves.”
Craig, from southwest England, is known as “Birdgirl” online, where her blog chronicling her bird-watching experiences has attracted thousands of followers.
She has travelled hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle aboard a Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise.
Climate data shows the Arctic is one of the fastest changing ecosystems on the planet, with serious consequences for wildlife from polar bears and seals to plankton and algae, while the melting sea ice contributes to rising sea levels worldwide.
Warming in the Arctic shrank the ice covering the polar ocean this year to its second-lowest extent in four decades, scientists said on Monday.
For Craig, getting to the ice floe involved a two-week quarantine in Germany, followed by a three-week voyage to the edge of the sea ice.
Craig said those who dismiss the youth protests as just a rebellious phase by her generation are wrong, and she wants those in power to stop treating climate change as a low-priority issue, raised only to appease “the lefties in the corner”.
“It’s everything now and it has to be treated like that,” she said.
(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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