4.5 billion years old .. a meteorite may reveal the secrets of life on Earth!


Since its discovery in early 2021, scientists have studied the Winchcombe meteorite to understand the minerals and chemistry it contains to learn how the solar system formed.

Research on the meteorite, which fell in the UK earlier this year, indicates that the space rock dates back to the beginning of the solar system, 4.5 billion years ago.

Now, the meteorite’s classification is officially off, thanks in part to STFC-funded studies on the sample.

The Winchcombe meteorite is named after the town in Gloucestershire where it landed, about 165 km from London, and is an extremely rare type of carbonaceous chondrite. It is a rocky meteorite rich in water and organic matter, and has preserved its chemistry from the formation of the solar system.

Scientists believe they are on the verge of revealing the origins of the planet, through research carried out on the extremely rare meteorite that fell in the UK earlier this year.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council made an emergency grant to fund the work of planetary scientists across the UK, and in this way, the Natural History Museum was able to invest in state-of-the-art processing facilities to conserve the meteorite, as well as support time-sensitive mineral and organic analyzes in specialized laboratories in many institutions leading in the country.

Preliminary analyzes show that Winchcombe is a member of the Mighei-like group of carbonaceous chondrites that have been officially approved by the Meteoritical Society.

Dr Ashley King, Future Leaders Fellow at UKRI’s Department of Earth Sciences at the Natural History Museum, said: “We are grateful for the funding provided by the Science and Technology Facility Council. The Council’s funding helps us in this unique opportunity to explore the origins of water and life on Earth. With the funding, we were able to invest in state-of-the-art equipment that has contributed to our analysis and research of the Winchcombe meteorite.”

The meteorite was tracked using images and video footage from the Fireball Alliance, or UKFAll, a collaboration between the UK’s meteorite camera networks. The fragments were then quickly located and recovered.

Dr Luke Daly from the University of Glasgow and co-chair of the Fireball Network said: “To be able to investigate Winchcombe is a dream come true. Many of us have spent our entire careers studying this rare type of meteorite.”

The funding enabled the scientists to quickly begin searching for signs of water and organic matter in Winchcombe before they became contaminated with the terrestrial environment.

Dr Queenie Chan, from Royal Holloway in London, added: ‘Preliminary analyzes of the teams confirm that Winchcombe contains a wide range of organic matter. Studying the meteorite just weeks after the fall, before any major ground contamination, means we are really looking to go back in time to the existing components. At the birth of the solar system, and learn about how they come together to make planets like Earth.

Source: Russia Today


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