At first, it appeared to be a crumbly, non-important chunk of rock. But as it turns out, this English hunk is a meteorite from the times of Earth’s – and our solar systems – origins.
Science widely agrees on the age of our planet sitting around 4.6 billion years. After testing, this remarkable object matches this age.
In March, Derek Robson of Loughborough, England, found the beyond-ancient meteorite in the middle of a field, courtesy of a horse’s tracks. Robson’s chances of recognizing the rock as something special, however, greatly increased by his position as the director of astrochemistry at the East Anglian Astrophysical Research Organisation (EAARO).
Live Science breaks down the find this week courtesy of Loughborough University, citing the “space rock” as a “carbonaceous chondrite, a rare category that makes up only 4% to 5% of meteorites that are found on Earth.”
Fascinatingly, “these meteorites hail from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and formed early in the history of the solar system,” Live Science‘s Stephanie Pappas states. In addition, they “often contain organic, or carbon-bearing, compounds… Including the amino acids that make up the basic building blocks of life.”
According to Pappas, this pinpoints the meteorite as an incredibly important piece of geology. It could, in short, “hold clues to how living things first emerged in the solar system.”
As such, England’s Robson is surely over the moon with his find.
Meteorite Remains ‘Untouched’ By ‘Violent’ Origins Of Solar System
Through a Loughborough University statement, we now know the rare meteorite has “been sitting out there, past Mars, untouched, since before any of the planets were created,” per a university microscopist, Shaun Fowler. “Meaning we have the rare opportunity to examine a piece of our primordial past.”
Typically, material from this point in the solar system’s – and our planet’s – formation were subject to “violent collisions and intense” heat. Not this meteorite.
“The composition is different to anything you would find here on Earth and potentially unlike any other meteorites we’ve found… Possibly containing some previously unknown chemistry or physical structure never before seen in other recorded meteorite samples,” Fowler continues.
By appearance, the space rock is a little charcoal lump. It’s fragile and flakey with almost a concrete-like look. But its composition is of rarer minerals and formations, in reality, Fowler cites.
“At this stage, we have learned a good deal about it… But we’ve barely scratched the surface,” adds Loughborough University chemist Sandie Dann.
It is, without question, a discovery of a lifetime. Who knows what we earthling Outsiders will find in a horseshoe imprint next.