“Don’t look”: Could a 10-kilometre meteorite destroy the Earth? (And other science questions about the Netflix movie) | Cinema

It is estimated that the meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was between 10 and 15 kilometers long.

caution: This article contains the plot details of the Netflix movie Don´t Look Up.

He is not looking for a script that has been taken up several times in the cinema, but this time he does it with irony and attaches special importance to science and scientists.

The film features two astronomers, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, who discovers that a comet is approaching Earth and will destroy it completely.

The movie is directed by Adam McKay, explores the role of the media, politics, social networks, and science themselves in relation to the reaction that humanity might have to such an event.

At BBC Mundo we look at some of the scientific aspects covered in the story.

What are comets and what is the difference between comets, asteroids, meteorites, meteorites and meteorites?

Comets are primitive bodies in the solar system, formed about 4.6 billion years ago, according to the European Space Agency.

Its name is derived from the Greek a kiteIt means “long hair” because of the very light tail that characterizes it.

Comets consist mostly of ice, which partially evaporates as it passes close to the sun.

NETFLIX astronomers have discovered that a comet is heading towards Earth and will completely destroy it.

Meanwhile, the comet’s tail consists of dust and gas, which are released when the sun evaporates the comet’s surface.

Millions of comets are found in distant, cold regions of the Solar System, such as the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy bodies that lies outside the orbit of Neptune.

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On the other hand, asteroids are bodies made of rock and not ice, like comets. It’s smaller than a planet, but bigger than a meteorite.

Most of the asteroids in the solar system are found in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

When an asteroid or comet collides with another, the two objects shatter into smaller pieces called meteorites.

When a meteorite enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it turns into a meteorite.

Meteorites are the stars of the dazzling “meteor shower,” and although they are not stars, meteorites are commonly called “meteoroids.”

The light ray of meteors can sometimes be confused with comets.

Finally, meteorites are meteorites that manage to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and fall like rocks on the surface of our planet.

What is the probability that a meteorite will hit the Earth?

According to NASA, about 100 tons of interplanetary material fall to Earth every day. Most of this material is dust emitted by comets.


The United Nations Office for Space Affairs (UNOOSA) defines a class of space objects called Near-Earth Objects (NEO).

An asteroid or comet is considered a near-Earth object when it is about 50 million kilometers from Earth’s orbit.

For reference, the Moon is located 384,400 km from Earth.

As of December 17, 2021, NASA has recorded nearly 28,000 NIOs since 1980. Of these, 117 are comets and the rest are asteroids.

Among them, 2,238 of them were classified as “hazardous asteroids”, as they passed within 4.7 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit and were larger than 140 meters.

But also, on average every 10,000 years, there is a possibility that asteroids higher than 100 meters can impact the Earth and cause local disasters or generate waves that inundate coastal areas.

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NASA also estimates that an asteroid larger than one kilometer could strike Earth every “hundreds of thousands of years.”

If this happens, the debris will spread into the atmosphere. This can cause acid rain, sunlight will be partially blocked and rocks on the ground will ignite again.

It is estimated that the meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was between 10 and 15 kilometers long.

NETFLIX Meryl Streep stars in the movie as the President of the United States.

“No asteroids are known to pose a significant risk of collision with Earth within the next 100 years,” NASA stated.

The 2009 FD asteroid presents the highest risk, which in 2185 will have a less than 0.2% chance of hitting the planet.

Are there protocols and defense mechanisms against meteorites that could threaten the Earth?

Both the European Space Agency and NASA have planetary defense offices dedicated to observing NEOS.

The task of these offices is to identify and track the path of potentially dangerous objects on Earth, characterize them, assess the consequences of a potential impact, share information with other agencies, and develop methods for asteroid drainage.

In November, NASA and the European Space Agency launched the first asteroid delivery mission.

This is the DART ship that aims to collide with the asteroid Dimorphos and change course.

This asteroid poses no danger to Earth, but the idea is to test technology that may one day be necessary to deflect a dangerous asteroid’s path.


Among the methods that NASA considers most viable is to divert the asteroid’s path, either by gravitational force from another object or by colliding with the asteroid, as DART does. He also noted that the use of nuclear explosives should be a “last resort”.

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Can you extract wealth from meteorites?

NASA says asteroids passing close to Earth have the potential to one day exploit raw materials.

Asteroids can contain metals such as iron, nickel, platinum and gold, which can be used to generate rocket fuel and build structures in space.

According to NASA, the accumulated mineral wealth in the asteroid belt is estimated at approximately $100 billion for each person on Earth.

In 2020, a study calculated that the asteroid Psyche 16, discovered in 1852, contains an amount of minerals equivalent to 10,000 quadrillion US dollars.

Given that the value of the world economy in 2019 was 142 trillion US dollars according to the German data portal Statista, it can be said that the value of psychological minerals is about 70 thousand times.

In 2022, NASA and SpaceX plan to launch a spacecraft that will reach Psyche 16 in 2026.

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