4.6 billion-year-old meteorite found in Sahara desert is older than Earth itself
a old volcanic space rock found in the Algerian Sahara Desert, can provide scientists knowledge in the building blocks of the planets. Called Erg Chech 002, or EC 002, the meteorite is considered a rest of a protoplanet dating back 4.6 billion years – around the time our solar system was forming.
The coarse-grained brown space rock, which is dotted with green, yellow-green, and yellow-brown crystals, was found by meteor hunters in Adrar, Algeria, in May 2020. Unlike meteorites found previously, which understand a kind of volcanic rock called basalt, Erg Chech 002 is composed of andesite. Although common in the Earth subduction zones – the zones where tectonic the plates collided and one was pushed under the other – andesite was rarely seen in meteorites.
“I have been working on meteorites for over 20 years now, and this is perhaps the most fantastic new meteorite that I have never seen â, explains Jean-Alix Barrat, geochemist at the University of West Brittany, who led the study.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal PNAS March 16, 2021, believe it fragment was probably part of the crust of an ancient protoplanet – a large rocky body developing into a planet. They speculate that the little planet was destroyed, or was devoured, by a larger planet during the formation of our solar system. “This meteorite is the oldest igneous rock analyzed to date and sheds light on the formation of the primordial crusts that covered the oldest protoplanets, âBarrat and his team reported.
Since no known asteroid resembles EC 002, researchers suspect that no other vestige of these early times remains. They either merged to form other planets or have been destroyed. “As we approach the beginning of the solar system, it becomes more and more complicated to get samples, âBarrat explains. “We probably won’t find another sample older than this.”
Resources: Newscientist.com, livescience.com, phys.com