Researchers from Curtin University in Australia have uncovered a meteorite that's estimated to be over 4.5 billion years old, which is about how old Earth is. Pretty f--king old but extremely chill.
ABC reports that "Curtin University team leader Phil Bland hand dug the meteorite from a 42-centimetre-deep hole in a remote section of the lake bed just hours before the arrival of heavy rains would have washed away any remaining clues." The team was thankfully able to snag the space treasure in the nick of time.
"It is older than the Earth itself. It's the oldest rock you'll ever hold in your hand," Professor Bland told the outlet. "It came to us from beyond the orbit of Mars, so in between Mars and Jupiter."
Here's some much-needed nerd context, since the difference between asteroid, meteor and meteorite can be a bit murky: NASA defines a meteorite as "a rock that has fallen to Earth from outer space." Meteors, on the other hand, never make it past Earth's atmosphere, but they do put on a hell of a light show, hence the nickname "shooting stars."
To illustrate, here's a hyperbolic artistic rendition of meteors striking the Earth. And a dinosaur, because reasons.
According to Bland, this meteorite "was thought to be a chondrite or stony meteorite, providing an example of material created during the early formation of the solar system more than 4.5-billion-years ago." Its discovery could have a major impact for future research regarding meteorites.
"This meteorite is of special significance as the camera observations used to calculate the fall positions have also enabled the solar system orbit of the meteorite to be calculated, giving important contextual information for future study," Bland said. "It is a big deal because space agencies like NASA or JAXA will spend a billion dollars trying to get to an asteroid and bring a sample back, so potentially we can do it for a lot less than that."