Erg Chech 002 Meteorite – 11-09-2023

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    Syllabus: GS-3/Science

    In News

    • Scientists have conducted an analysis of the Erg Chech 002 meteorite, one of the oldest space rocks ever discovered. The data could provide insights into the early solar system.

    Erg Chech 002

    • Erg Chech 002 meteorite, which is approximately 4.6 billion years old, was found in the Erg Chech region of the Sahara Desert in Algeria in 2020.
    • Meteorites like Erg Chech 002 are thought to have formed from material in a disk of gas and dust around the young Sun.

    Achondrites

    • Erg Chech 002 is an achondrite rock formed by melting planetesimals, was combined with existing data regarding angrite meteorites  —  a rare group of achondrites.
    • Achondrites are meteorites that show signs of having experienced melting and have features similar to volcanic rock here on Earth.

    Using Aluminum-26 as a dating system

    • Erg Chech 002 contained the radioactive isotope Aluminum-26 when it formed, which is significant because this unstable form of aluminum played a role in a later stage of Earth’s evolution known as “planetary melting.”
    • To understand how Aluminum-26 was distributed during the formation of the planets, scientists use it as a dating system for space rocks. Aluminum-26 decays into Magnesium-26, which is stable, allowing scientists to determine the age of meteorites.

    Planetary melting

    • Planetary melting is the process which rocky planets, like Earth, formed layers with different compositions.
    • This differentiation happened as denser material sank to the core, resulting in the formation of a dense metal core and a less dense rocky mantle.

    Difference between a meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite?

    • Meteoroids: Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
    • Meteors: When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors.
    • Meteorite: When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.

    Source: TH