Image Credit: Meteorics & Planetary Science

A meteorite hit the earth back in 2018. The space rock was found to contain pristine organic compounds. Those compounds can show us a little more about how life formed on planet Earth. They come from a time before the Earth. This meteorite was seen by people driving on the highway. That is no surprise. The meteor came along with a large fireball and loud explosion. This happened in January of 2018. Thankfully so, these pristine space rocks were able to be in the hands of researchers quickly, before they were contaminated.

It didn’t take long to find this meteorite

Less than 2 days after it hit the earth, Robert Ward, a meteorite hunter, located the first piece. It was found on Strawberry Lake just outside of Hamburg, Michigan. At the time, the lake was covered in a sheet of ice. Ward used NASA’s weather radar to pinpoint the location. No time was wasted in getting these space rocks to the Field Museum in Chicago. There, museum curator Philipp Heck starting studying it.

This meteorite is special because it fell onto a frozen lake and was recovered quickly. It was very pristine. We could see the minerals weren’t much altered and later found that it contained a rich inventory of extraterrestrial organic compounds. These kinds of organic compounds were likely delivered to the early Earth by meteorites and might have contributed to the ingredients of life.

Philipp Heck

Scientists determined that the specimen was an ‘H4 chondrite meteorite’. These are apparently pretty rare. They make up just 4 percent of meteorites found on Earth’s surface. This rock contains over 2,600 separate organic compounds. All of them are still intact. The inside of this space rock has a lot to tell us. This is pretty outstanding considering the heat that is involved with re-entry. This rock broke off from a larger asteroid 12 million years ago. Scientists found that the parent asteroid formed 4.5 billion years earlier. Sorry creationists, but this rock is older than 6000 years.

A lot of scientists were able to probe the rock using different techniques, so we have an unusually comprehensive set of data for a single meteorite.

Philipp Heck

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