Scientists have confirmed that the asteroid that exploded over Germany last month is a rare type of space rock that could help shed light on the origins of Earth. According space.comThe fragments of asteroid 2024 BX1 were discovered just five days after the explosion. Scientists analyzed the meteorite fragments and discovered that they were part of a rare group called aubrites. SETI Institute meteorite astronomer Peter Jenniskens, who was part of the team that recovered the fragments, also said the meteorites date back about 4.5 billion years, coinciding with the formation of plants in the solar system.
According to Jenniskens, only 11 examples of aubrite meteorites that fell to Earth are known in the past. This rare family is believed to represent only 1% of known meteorites, he said, according to the exit.
Aubrite meteorites stand out for their unique characteristics. Unlike typical meteorites, they possess a translucent glass crust rather than a thick black one, and have a gray granite appearance, which initially causes difficulty in distinguishing them from ordinary terrestrial rocks.
However, after examining the space rock, scientists determined that the fragments have the mineralogy and chemical composition typical of aubrite-type rocks. “The interesting thing about this fall is that we have a very nice orbit, so the shape of the orbit itself contains clues about where the source region of these meteorites was,” Jenniskens said.
“They probably came from the inner side of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. That’s a place where there’s probably a lot of debris, a collision that created many smaller pieces called the asteroid family,” he added.
According space.com, main belt asteroids like 2024 BX1 formed around the same time as the solar system’s planets, about 4.5 billion years ago, from material around the rising sun that was not consumed by the formation of the planets. This allows scientists to glimpse the building blocks of planets, especially on the rocky worlds in the inner solar system: Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth.
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Jenniskens also noted that aubrites, like these meteorites, exhibit remarkably Earth-like properties, such as water content and chemical proportions. These similarities offer researchers a unique opportunity to study the materials involved in the formation of our planet billions of years ago.
“It’s very interesting. We have new material to look at that may have been the building blocks from which the Earth formed. And that’s the appeal of this particular meteorite,” Jenniskens said.
Notably, the asteroid, which was about 1 meter in size, erupted over Munich, Germany, on January 21. It is believed to be one of the smallest space rocks ever detected before hitting Earth.