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A 4.5 billion year old meteorite was found in the South Australian outback

Robert Howie and Phil Bland with their new discovery. Photo: Curtin University

A meteorite older than Earth itself has been found in a remote part of Lake Eyre in the South Australian outback.

The rock, which is estimated to be around 4.5 billion years old was recovered by a team of researchers from the Curtin University in Perth.

Curtin University team leader Phil Bland and his team had been searching for the meteorite after it was spotted by locals and five remote cameras in late November.

The use of the cameras were crucial, as rain in the area had softened the ground and destroyed trails they had planned to follow.

“It was an amazing team effort, we got there by the skin of our teeth,” Professor Bland told the Australian Associated Press.

“It is older than the Earth itself. It’s the oldest rock you’ll ever hold in your hand.

“It came to us from beyond the orbit of Mars, so in between Mars and Jupiter.”

The meteorite is thought to be a chondrite or stony meteorite, material that was first created 4.5 billion years ago in the formation of the solar system.

Professor Bland believes the meteorite first entered the Earth’s atmosphere on November 27 as an 80 kilogram fireball travelling at 14 kilometres a second.

It’s also only one of 20 meteorites in the word that have an identified orbit that allows the team to trace it back to its original asteroid.

Space agencies such as NASA typically spend billions of dollars on programs to get samples from an asteroid, so discoveries like this one allow significant space research to be completed for much less.

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