Researchers have been studying an ancient meteorite that was discovered in a field in England in March. The meteorite traveled at least 110 million miles from its origination between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt. The 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite was discovered lying in the imprint of a horseshoe and said to be a likely remnant of cosmic debris left from the birth of our solar system.
Scientists at Loughborough University believe that studying the meteorite could answer questions about how life on earth began. The team is studying the meteorite to determine its structure and composition along with colleagues from EAARO using various techniques, including electron microscopy. In addition, the team is looking into surface morphology at micron and nanometer scale.
Rock is also being investigated using vibrational spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction to provide detailed information about chemical structure, phase, and polymorphism, as well as crystallinity and molecular interactions. The data will be used to determine the structure and composition of the meteorite. The object resembles loosely held together concrete dust and particles. It was never subjected to cosmic collisions most ancient space debris experienced from smashing together during the creation of planets and moons in the solar system.
Researchers say the internal structure is fragile and loosely bound, and porous with fissures and cracks. There is no apparent thermal metamorphism present which means it’s been sitting past Mars untouched since before any planets were created. The bulk of the meteorite is made up of minerals, including olivine and phyllosilicates along with material inclusions called chondrules.
The meteorite composition is different from anything found on Earth and potentially different from any other meteorites discovered in the past. The sample could contain previously unknown chemistry or physical structure never seen in other meteorite samples. The rock is a carbonaceous chondrite, which often contains organic material. Fewer than five percent of meteorites that hit the Earth are carbonaceous chondrites.