A 4.6-billion-year-old meteorite found lying in the imprint of a horseshoe is likely a remnant of cosmic debris left over from the birth of the solar system and could answer questions about how life began on Earth.
It was discovered by Loughborough resident Derek Robson, of the East Anglian Astrophysical Research Organisation(EAARO), in a Gloucestershire field, in March, after travelling from a distance of at least 110 million miles from its primordial home between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt.
Scientists at Loughborough University are now analysing the small charcoal-coloured space rock to determine its structure and composition in a bid to answer questions about the early solar system and possibly our own origins.
Along with colleagues from EAARO, researchers are using techniques such as electron microscopy to survey the surface morphology at the micron and nanometre scale; vibrational spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction, which give detailed information about chemical structure, phase and polymorphism, crystallinity and molecular interactions, to determine the structure and composition.
The material, which resembles loosely held-together concreted dust and particles, never underwent the violent cosmic collisions that most ancient space debris experienced as it smashed together to create the planets and moons of our solar system.