A team of scientists in Australia have discovered an ancient meteorite buried in a salt lake, one they believe to be 4.5 billion years old.
"It is older than the Earth itself. It's the oldest rock you'll ever hold in your hand," Phil Bland, a professor at Curtin University, told the ABC. "It came to us from beyond the orbit of Mars, so in between Mars and Jupiter."
The meteorite was tracked by a team of researchers called the Fireball Network and was observed entering the earth's atmosphere using a network of 32 cameras in Australia's remote Lake Eyre region. The researchers then spent days sweeping the area, hoping to find the rock, The West Australian reports.
Finding rocks like this and having a clear idea of their orbit before they landed on Earth is rare, according to the researchers. Knowing where the meteorite came from in the solar system could help scientists piece together more information about how our system evolved.
"There are a bunch of unanswered questions about the formation of the solar system," Robert Howie, another member of the team, told W.A. today. "The more meteorites we can get with orbits the closer we can come to maybe answering some of those questions, even about the formation or the creation of life on Earth."