“Asteroid will be dangerously close to Earth in November.” “Another space threat? NASA warns of possible asteroid impact with Earth.” “NASA warns of super-fast asteroid that could hit Earth in 2020.” For a year and a half, the 2018 VP1 appears recurrently in the media.

But is there really a risk that this asteroid will hit Earth? It is dangerous? Let’s start at the beginning: specifically on November 3, 2018 when a group of astronomers found 2018 VP1 in the vastness of the universe. It was for a very short time. The necessary to catalog it, but not enough to determine precisely what its exact orbit would be. That’s where the party started.

And it is that, effectively and as far as we know, between November 2 and 3 of this year the asteroid will pass “close” to Earth. Cosmologically close, of course: about 450,000 km from Earth. That is, farther from the surface of the Earth than the Moon. That is the most reliable estimate, but as I say the data is very imprecise and we have a margin of error of four million kilometers. Therefore, in effect, it can be said that yes, there are possibilities that it will impact the Earth: one in 240. From there the thing becomes much less exciting.

A space marble at 30,000 kilometers per hour

Simulation of the 2018 VP1 passing through our neighborhood. The blue point is Earth; yellow, the Moon; and pink, the asteroid.

Another of the data that is never lacking in the information about the 2018 VP1 is that it comes at an enormous speed: just over 30,000 kilometers per hour. However, it is not the most relevant fact if we really want to assess the danger of this celestial body. The fundamental data is its size. There, as our old friends the dinosaurs know, is where we play it.

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Well, the 2018 VP1 measures two meters in diameter. Yes, you read correctly. It is not a typographical error. Two meters in diameter. This, translated into real effects that it can cause on planet Earth, becomes nothing more absolute. If the asteroid ends up crashing into the Earth’s atmosphere in early November of this year, it will transform into a beautiful racing car that perhaps can be seen by some fisherman from the South Pacific. Little more.

But I take a lot that all this will not matter. There are still months to November and we have more than enough time to listen again (again and again) to this dangerous asteroid that could impact Earth. It is not worth getting angry. At most, sit on the terrace, open a light queue and enjoy a good dose of science fiction.


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