(FiveNation.com)- Here’s an amazing story we thought you’d find interesting…and it’s a nice break from reading about Joe Biden’s latest gaffe. Scientists just discovered a piece of a protoplanet in the Sahara Desert that’s older than planet Earth.
Well, it wasn’t just discovered, but the media is only picking up on the story now after a study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. According to reports, a relic was discovered in the spring of last year in a remote part of the Sahara desert. It was a large piece of rock from a protoplanet – or a large body of space rock that eventually develops into a planet – that appears to have come crashing down to Earth.
Labeled “Erg Chech 002 (EC 002),” the rock is the oldest known lava that has ever fallen to the Earth and gives scientists an amazing look at the materials that form the insides of planets.
It’s hardly every day that a piece of rock that might one day have become a planet like Earth or Mars ends up in the hands of scientists.
Professor Jean-Alix Barrat, a geochemist from the University of Western Brittany in France, led a team of scientists who examined the rock after it was discovered. He previously worked on a study of a similar rock, an andesitic meteorite, back in 2014.
“When we saw the first descriptions of this rock, it was really obvious that this rock was unusual,” he told the press.
“The age was not the sole point of interest,” he continued. “We were extremely interested by the genesis of such extra-terrestrial andesitic melts and on the processes of formation of primordial crusts. Such samples are extremely precious.”
The term “andesitic” refers to a kind of volcanic rock that is dark and fine-grained.
According to the study, the rock is “not a meteorite freshly fallen on earth.”
“It is slightly weathered, but we know since the study of the Tatahouine meteorite that terrestrial weathering is fast even in the Sahara,” Barrat added.
His team performed an analysis of aluminum and magnesium isotopes in the meteorite and discovered that it dates back more than 4.5 billion years. That makes it the “oldest known piece of an igneous crust” ever discovered. It’s also made up of roughly 58$ silicon dioxide, meaning that the parent body – the protoplanet from which it came – had a crust made up from andesite rock.
The study also concludes that most of the protoplanets in our solar system were “certainly destroyed or subsequently accreted to the growing rocky planets, making the discovery of meteorites originating from primordial crusts an exceptional occurrence.”