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Meteorite That Was Found in the Sahara Desert is Older Than Earth

Image for representation only. Credit: Canva

Image for representation only. Credit: Canva

It is being expected that further research on the rock will enable scientists to understand how planets formed in the early solar system. The name of the meteorite has been kept as Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), based on the Algerian site where it was found.

Can you imagine that a volcanic rock older than Earth exists? If not, here is a surprise for you as researchers have found a meteorite that landed in the Sahara Desert in 2020 and is said to be 4.56 billion years old. While, the planet on which we live is approximately 4.54 billion years old.

Jean-Alix Barrat, the co-author of the paper published in PNAS and a researcher at the University of Western Brittany in France, told The New Scientist that he has been working on meteorites for more than 20 years and this is possibly the most fantastic meteorite he has ever seen.

It is being expected that further research on the rock will enable scientists to understand how planets formed in the early solar system. The name of the meteorite has been kept as Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), based on the Algerian site where it was found.

It is said that the meteorite is made up of a rock called andesite. Andesite is generally found in subduction zones, or areas of the Earth where tectonic plates collide and layer above or below each other. According to the researchers, the magma which has created EC 002 took more than 1,00,000 years to solidify.

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They have also confirmed that this find is very rare as no known asteroid looks like EC 002 and also most of the meteorites which have been discovered till date on Earth are made of a volcanic rock called basalt rock.

It is also being estimated by the researchers that this meteorite was a part of an ancient protoplanet which is a large body orbiting the sun in the process of developing into a planet.

Barrat said that it is very complicated to get samples when you go close to the beginning of the solar system and they probably will not find another sample older than this one.

It is believed that the meteorite was part of a group that was recovered in May 2020 near Bir Ben Takoul, southern Algeria, within the Erg Chech sand sea and is described as having a coarse-grained, tan and beige appearance interspersed with crystals that are green, yellow-green, and yellow-brown. Also, the rock is igneous in nature.

Keywords: Meteorite older than Earth, Meteorite older than Earth found, Meteorite older than Earth found in sahara, Sahara Desert, meteorite found in Sahara Desert in 2020, meteorite, Sahara Desert

first published:March 10, 2021, 18:15 IST