Scientists say they have found a space rock from the ages in Antarctica – an extremely rare meteorite that contains some of the oldest material in the solar system.
Maria Valdez, researcher at the Chicago Field Museum, she told the Chicago Tribune.
17 pounds meteorIt was discovered on January 5 by an international team at the end of an 11-day expedition.
The unusual rock, which contains material from billions of years ago, is one of the largest meteorites ever found on the continent and likely originated in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Independent reported.
“To put meteorite size in perspective, of the 45,000 meteorites recovered from Antarctica over the past century, only 100 are of this size or larger,” said the Chicago Field Museum, which was part of the expedition.
Researchers on snowmobiles had spent the better part of two weeks combing ice fields for meteorites when they made the startling discovery just as they were about to wrap up their exploration, according to the Tribune.
They were reluctant to celebrate at first, Valdez said, “because we knew that if we found a meteor, that was really the mother node. The last day, the last hour.”
The team became convinced it had indeed found a rare space rock when members discovered it was “about the size of a bowling ball but weighs twice as much as a bowling ball,” Valdez told the paper.
The rock has what Valdes described as an “fusional crust” — a glassy outer layer that melted slightly as it entered the atmosphere. It was also worn out, a sign that it had been on Earth for many ages.
The meteorite has been sent to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Belgium for chemical analysis.
“All meteorites have something to say about Earth’s evolution,” Valdez said. “Size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to meteorites, and even tiny micrometeorites can be incredibly valuable scientifically.”
The Independent noted that most of the 45,000 meteorites found in Antarctica over the past century weighed only a few grams.
The discovery came months after NASA’s success Destroyed an asteroid 530 feet across In a test run to prepare for the possibility of a huge space rock slamming toward and threatening Earth, such as the 6.2-mile-wide asteroid that scientists believe is wiped out dinosaurs millions of years ago.