• ESA detected an asteroid with a strong chance of hitting Earth
  • NASA's automated monitoring system is tracking the same asteroid

The European Space Agency (ESA) has detected an asteroid that has a non-zero probability of hitting Earth less than a year from now.

The incoming asteroid, known as 2018 VP1, is currently in the ESA Risk List, which catalogs all known space rocks with non-zero impact probabilities. As of this writing, 2018 VP1 is ranked as the second most dangerous asteroid on the list due to its chances of hitting Earth.

"The Risk List is a catalogue of all objects for which a non-zero impact probability has been detected. Each entry contains details on the Earth approach posing the highest risk of impact," ESA describes of its list.

According to the data collected by the ESA, the asteroid is traveling at a speed of over 32,000 miles per hour. The agency estimated that the asteroid has an average diameter of about 8 feet.

Aside from the ESA, NASA is also monitoring the asteroid after it was detected by Sentry, which is the agency’s automated system that keeps track of space rocks that pose a threat to Earth. According to NASA, 2018 VP1 is an Apollo asteroid that follows a wide orbit around Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury and the Sun. Occasionally, its orbit intersects with that of Earth and Mars.

Both NASA and the ESA predicted that 2018 VP1 might collide with Earth on Nov. 2, 2020. According to NASA, the asteroid is expected to approach on this date from a distance of only 0.00280 astronomical units, which is equivalent to 260,000 miles away.

As noted by the ESA, the odds of the asteroid hitting Earth next year are 1 out of 250. NASA puts the odds of impact at 1 in 240 or 0.41% chance of Earth impact.

Fortunately, since the asteroid is not that big, Earth is not in danger of experiencing an impact event even in the case of a collision. Instead, the asteroid will most likely burn up and explode in the atmosphere before reaching the ground. Although the asteroid is capable of producing a powerful explosion, it won’t be enough to affect people and structures on the ground.

NASA Asteroid family Mars and Jupiter
This artist concept catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter and how they have formed families of objects on similar orbits around the sun. NASA/JPL-Caltech