On the cold night of February 28, the residents of Gloucestershire city of South West England witnessed a bright fireball in the sky. It was a meteorite entering Earth’s atmosphere. Meteorites are very tiny space rocks broken off of asteroids or other solar system bodies. However, the meteorite that shone on that night was no ordinary. When scientists searched for the space rock, a fragment of it was found fallen in a village named Woodmancote. The two-inch piece of the meteorite was charcoal-black in color and incredibly delicate and gave an imprint of a horseshoe. When scientists dated the meteorite, they found that it was probably formed during the birth of our solar system, about 4.6 billion years ago, and somehow managed to save itself from being transformed by violent cosmic collisions.
“It’s been sitting out there past Mars, untouched, since before any of the planets were created meaning we have the rare opportunity to examine a piece of our primordial past,” Shaun Fowler, a microscopist at Loughborough Materials Characterisation Centre told the Daily Mail.
According to scientists, the primordial home of the meteoroid is in the asteroid belt of our solar system, circling the sun in an orbit between the orbits of Earth and Mars. Scientists believe that this ancient piece of space rock may reveal how life on earth originated. When Fowler looked at the fragment from the space rock under an electron microscope, she found that the internal structure of the meteor was loosely bound and fragile, and porous with cracks and fissures.
Scientists say that the meteorite is unique because it is unlike any other previously found meteorites, all of which had undergone violent cosmic collisions, mostly erasing the ancient history they carried within. Moreover, the chemical composition of the meteorite is also different from those previously found and anything found on Earth. Scientists are still studying space rock and they say they have barely scratched the surface.