An enormous asteroid containing some of the oldest known cosmic materials was discovered in Antarctica on Jan. 5.
The 17-pound rock is made up of material potentially billions of years old, and is one of the rarest and most “exciting” finds, according to the BBC. More than 45,000 asteroids have been found in Antarctica over the last hundred years, but this most recent rock is pretty special.
Likely originating from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the asteroid was discovered during an 11-day expedition by a group of international researchers, the Chicago Tribune noted. The team used specialized data and imaging tools to identify areas under the Antarctic ice where meteorites have landed throughout the history of our planet.
17-pound Meteorite Discovered in Antarcticahttps://t.co/KY0YIfa3JK
Image: Maria Valdes pic.twitter.com/mCG50ReqDj
— Richard J. Bartlett (@astronomywriter) January 23, 2023
When an asteroid is in space, it’s called an asteroid. An asteroid becomes a meteor when it enters our atmosphere and burns up, and it’s called a meteorite when the rock lands on Earth’s surface. “Even tiny meteorites can be incredibly scientifically valuable,” researcher Maria Valdes told the BBC. But the most recent find is far from tiny.
The team believes that the most recent meteorite is made up of chondrite, some of the oldest material known to man, the BBC noted. At over 4.6 billion years old, scientists believe that previous chondrite meteorites may have helped bring the earliest stages of life to our planet. (RELATED: Shipwreck Of Ernest Shakleton’s Endurance Found At The Bottom Of The Antarctic After 107 Years)
Some scientists believe chondrite containing water, sulphur, and other minerals may have landed on Earth as our planet was forming, meaning that We The People might be extraterrestrial in origin! Researchers also want to establish how meteorites may have helped stabilize our atmosphere, allowing life to flourish.
The massive meteorite is being studied at a lab in Belgium, where more exciting discoveries will surely be made in the near future.