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Meteorite lands in Leicester as giant asteroid blasts ‘near earth’ at 50,000 mph

Netflix has donated a fragment of a Semychan Pallasite meteorite, similar to the fictional comet in the hit film DON’T LOOK UP, to Space Park Leicester in a bid to inspire the next generation of space pioneers.

A 20cm fragment of meteorite will be given to Space Park Leicester by the world’s leading streaming entertainment service and will be used by the University of Leicester’s Space Research Centre.

The donation comes as a 1,082-foot asteroid made one of its closest-known passes to our planet on Tuesday, January 18, and will not come this close again for the next two centuries. It came within 1.2 million miles of our planet, which means it is classified by NASA as being ‘potentially hazardous’.

The giant rock is around two and a half times the height of the Empire State Building but,  unlike the Dibiaski Comet in the film DON’T LOOK UP, it is not on a direct collision course with Earth.

The feature film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence as two low-level astronomers who make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem — it’s on a direct collision course with Earth.

DON’T LOOK UP: Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky. NIKO TAVERNISE/NETFLIX © 2021

Space Park Leicester is a £100 million research, innovation and teaching hub home to space-related high-tech companies and researchers. It is led by the University of Leicester in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).

The donation is being accepted as part of the outreach programme at the Space Research Centre at Space Park Leicester. Academics from the University regularly volunteer with the neighbouring National Space Centre and will therefore be able to share the meteorite at specific events.

Professor Mark Sims, Director of the Space Research Centre, Space Park Leicester, said: “We thank Netflix for this kind donation, which will be used to help inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers and interest in science and technology. Space has been in the news recently with events like the James Webb Space Telescope and this new Netflix film is also generating interest, which can only be a good thing.

“Exploring space enables us to answer important questions about our place in the universe and the history of our solar system and Space and its application is nowadays a fundamental part of civilisation and the economy. The knowledge and technology we gain from the space is hence improving our lives. There would be no GPS, solar cells, accurate weather prediction, or monitoring of the global changing climate and earth’s surface without space research.”


Semychan Pallasite meteorite donated to Space Park Leicester’s outreach programme by Netflix
  • The donated space rock is a fragment of a Semychan Pallasite meteorite which measures 21cm in length and weighs 167g.
  • The Seymchan meteorite was born 4.5 billion years ago in the core of a comet or asteroid similar to DON’T LOOK UP’s fictional Dibiasky Comet.
  • The meteorite originated from the core-mantle boundary of an asteroid or comet that broke apart during early solar system history. Following pinball-like impacts, the large mass was serendipitously bumped into an Earth-crossing orbit. 
  • Extra-terrestrial crystals of gleaming olivine and peridot, ranging in hues from emerald to amber. The crystals are the result of small chunks of the stony mantle becoming suspended in the molten metal of an asteroid’s iron-nickel core.
  • Latticework is referred to as a Widmanstätten pattern, which is a result of the meteorite cooling over millions of years. The only place where this can happen is in the vacuum of space; the appearance of this pattern is diagnostic in the identification of a meteorite.


Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), an astronomy grad student, and her professor Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make an astounding discovery of a comet orbiting within the solar system. The problem — it’s on a direct collision course with Earth. The other problem? No one really seems to care. It turns out warning mankind about a planet-killer the size of Mount Everest is an inconvenient fact to navigate.

With the help of Dr. Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan), Kate and Randall embark on a media tour that takes them from the office of an indifferent  President Orlean (Meryl Streep) and her sycophantic son and Chief of Staff, Jason (Jonah Hill), to the airwaves of The Daily Rip, an upbeat morning show hosted by Brie (Cate Blanchett) and Jack (Tyler Perry).

With only six months until the comet makes impact, managing the 24-hour news cycle and gaining the attention of the social media obsessed public before it’s too late proves shockingly comical — what will it take to get the world to just look up?!

DON’T LOOK UP is written and directed by Academy Award winner Adam McKay (The Big Short) and also stars Mark Rylance, Ron Perlman, Timothée Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi), Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Chiklis and Tomer Sisley. The film was released in select cinemas on December 10th and on Netflix globally on December 24th. It has reached the number one spot on both the UK and global Top 10 lists.