General, Research, Technology

An asteroid may fall to Earth in November. Do I need to worry?

Who would have thought that 2020 will bring usso many unpleasant surprises? At the beginning of the year, the news talked about the possible start of a world war, and then countries closed due to the deadly coronavirus. The pandemic has not yet passed, but nature continues to shock humanity with fires and other phenomena. There are so many incidents that people have already begun to wait for other misfortunes and fear them in advance. So, in foreign publications, news appeared that in November an asteroid would fall on our planet. Well, what if not a logical conclusion to a year so shocking for the events? A potentially dangerous asteroid was discovered several years ago, but it is only now being seriously discussed. And all because in the fall it will come as close as possible to our planet. But is it really that huge and the collision cannot be avoided? There are two likely outcomes of this event.

What other surprises is in store for 2020?

Dangerous asteroid

About whether to be afraid of the one advancing to the sideAsteroid Earth, was reported in The Next Web. For the first time, its existence became known on November 3, 2018. It was then that the staff of the Palomar Observatory (USA) recorded a faintly flickering near-Earth asteroid, which was given the name 2018 VP₁... At that time, he was at a distance of 450000 kilometers from our planet. That is, he flew a little further than the Moon, which is located 384,000 kilometers from the Earth. Since the asteroid flickered very faintly, astronomers could only observe it for 13 days. Then he simply flew past our planet and thereby disappeared from the eyes of scientists.

There are no photos of the asteroid 2018 VP₁, but The Next Web showed another asteroid - Eros, which is thousands of times larger than 2018 VP₁

The discovered asteroid belongs to the group"Apollo", whose trajectories intersect with the earth's orbit. They move around the sun and from time to time fly past our planet. Asteroid 2018 VP₁ takes two years to complete one circle. It was discovered in 2018, and in November of this year, a couple of years will have passed since that moment - therefore, it will again approach our planet. Only now it will collide with the Earth or not, scientists do not know for sure, because they observed the object for only two weeks and the collected data do not allow calculating the exact trajectory of its flight. At the same time, scientists are inclined to assume that a collision will not occur. The probability of a catastrophe is 0.41%, that is, the chance of an asteroid colliding with the Earth is 1 in 240.

Trajectories of movement of space objects. The white line shows the route 2018 VP₁

See also: Artificial intelligence discovered 11 potentially dangerous asteroids for the Earth

Asteroid collision

But let's assume that astronomers' predictionsare not true and the collision will still occur. Since the 2018 VP scintillation was very weak in 2018 and could hardly be detected among the stars, scientists assume that its diameter does not exceed 2 meters. For comparison, the diameter of the meteorite that fell on Chelyabinsk in 2013 was 20 meters. Its shockwave damaged thousands of buildings and injured more than 1,500 people. But a two-meter asteroid will not be able to lead to such destruction and, most likely, will quickly burn up in the atmosphere of our planet. The maximum that can fall on us from above is its tiny fragments. And who said that the asteroid will explode over the populated area? If it collides with our planet over the Pacific Ocean, no one will even know about it. Except, of course, scientists.

Collision of an asteroid with the Earth. This won't happen in November

Anyway, asteroids collide with ourplanet every year and we don't even notice it. Sometimes potentially dangerous objects are noticed after they fly past us. More recently, Indian student Kunal Deshmukh noticed in space photographs the asteroid 2020 QG, which could very well have fallen to Earth. But the collision did not happen and the object flew past us at a distance of 2.95 thousand kilometers. It moved at a speed of 12.3 kilometers per second, and the closest approach to Earth occurred on August 16, at 19:08 Moscow time.

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In the material about this rapprochement, I also toldabout a 10-meter asteroid that collided with our planet in mid-December 2018 over the Bering Sea. And even this space object could not harm us, because it exploded at a very high altitude and scientists could not even clearly see the explosion. They even had to look for eyewitnesses of the event among the passengers of the planes, but even they did not notice anything. So, in November we will be all right - asteroid 2018 VP₁ will either fly by or be destroyed at high altitude.