A rare meteorite that dates back billions of years could provide researchers with many secrets to how life formed on Earth.
The meteorite is called Winchcombe and fell to Earth in early 2021. Since then, researchers have been studying its properties and have found that it dates back to near the beginning of our solar system around 4.5 billion years ago. Winchcombe is a rare type of meteorite called a carbonaceous chondrite, which means that it is rich in water and organic matter.
Dr. Ashley King, a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences at the Natural History Museum, said, "Winchcombe is the first meteorite fall to be recovered in the UK for 30 years and the first-ever carbonaceous chondrite to be recovered in our country. STFC's funding is aiding us with this unique opportunity to discover the origins of water and life on Earth. Through the funding, we have been able to invest in state-of-the-art equipment that has contributed to our analysis and research into the Winchcombe meteorite."
Researchers concluded that the preliminary analysis of the meteorite shows it contains a wide range of organic material. Through studying the meteorite, researchers are saying they are able to peer back at the ingredients that were present at the birth of our solar system.
Dr. Queenie Chan from Royal Holloway, University of London, said, "The teams' preliminary analyses confirm that Winchcombe contains a wide range of organic material! Studying the meteorite only weeks after the fall, before any significant terrestrial contamination, means that we really are peering back in time at the ingredients present at the birth of the solar system, and learning about how they came together to make planets like the Earth."
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