An asteroid hurtling close to Earth is on course to buzz the globe the day before the U.S. presidential election.
According to calculations by NASA, the refrigerator-sized space boulder has only a minuscule chance (0.41%) of entering Earth’s atmosphere and is likely to make its flyby at a relatively comfortable ― but very close in space terms ― 260,000 miles, or slightly farther than the distance from the Earth to the moon.
“So if the world ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the universe,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said on Instagram Monday:
Asteroid 2018VP1 is hurtling through space at some 25,000 miles per hour. It was discovered two years ago on another near approach of its orbit, when it was some 280,000 miles away.
If the asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere, it would quickly disintegrate because of its small size, per NASA Asteroid Watch.
CORRECTION: This article previously cited an incorrect figure for the minimum possible distance of the asteroid from the Earth. The article has been updated with the likeliest distance from the Earth.