This may hit a little too close to home: According to NASA, an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, with a small chance of collision on the date of the US elections, November 3rd (via CNN).
Meet Asteroid 2018VP1, your newest 2020 rock-star. According to NASA, it’s 6.5 feet long, with a 0.41% chance of entering our planet’s atmosphere. Even if it did so, it would “disintegrate due to its extremely small size,” falling harmlessly to Earth with as much impact as a third-party protest vote.
But in this increasingly apocalyptic year — with nearly-Biblical plagues, multiple hellish wildfires, two hurricanes landing at once, and new acts of police brutality seemingly every day — it’s hard not to view this asteroid as a metaphor, and a particularly heavy-handed one at that. In Shakespeare’s plays, the sight of comets, meteors, and other shooting stars was a bad omen; a warning, and a sign of impending change. For the superstitious amongst us, Asteroid 2018VP1 can highlight the importance of getting this election right. The rest of us can sit back and wonder at the tiny miracles that NASA is performing every day. This is truly breathtaking science that we tend to take for granted.
Recently, NASA has been partnering with the arts to raise awareness for all their stupendous public features. Earlier this month, they teamed up with Beck for the visual album Hyperspace: A.I. Exploration, and last fall Dev Hynes used actual sounds from space to score visuals for Ad Astra.
Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! 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.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 23, 2020
Vote early. https://t.co/k3eWDZogan
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 23, 2020