Scientists identify oldest-known meteor of volcanic origin a century after it smashed down into Sahara

Scientists identify oldest-known meteor of volcanic origin a century after it smashed down into Sahara

Researchers at a French university have finally identified a meteor fragment discovered in the Algerian Sahara desert in May 2020, which had likely been there for “at least 100 years”.

The piece of meteor, designated Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), is believed to date back 4.5 billion years, to the early days of the solar system. Of volcanic origin, it became detached from a protoplanet some 26 million years ago and continued its journey through space, eventually plummeting to Earth, where it rested for about a century before being uncovered.

The scientific find has been documented in a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences journal, in which geochemists from France’s Brest University explained how rare the meteor is, being just one of 65,000. 

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It’s believed the reason for the meteor’s rarity is that other types of this material either formed part of other planets, or were pulverised by the chaotic and developing solar system after becoming detached.

“No asteroid shares the spectral features of EC 002, indicating that almost all of these bodies have disappeared, either because they went on to form the building blocks of larger bodies or planets or were simply destroyed,” the researchers stated.

The formation of its structure “is poorly understood, due in part to the scarcity of available samples,” the paper also noted. There are believed to be about a hundred fragments of the meteor but, so far, only 43 have been identified and officially categorized, the AFP reports.

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