Australia

Ancient meteorite retrieved at Australia's Lake Eyre

Australian researchers Image copyright Curtin University
Image caption Curtin University researchers Robert Howie and Phil Bland with the meteorite

Australian researchers have retrieved a meteorite believed to be around 4.5 billion years old from a remote lakebed.

It was dug out of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre on New Years Eve, hours before rain would have washed away any trace of it.

Curtin University geologists Phil Bland and Robert Howie used a network of 32 remote cameras to track the meteorite.

The cameras, called the Desert Fireball Network, helped narrow the search area to a 500m line.

Image copyright Curtin University
Image caption A very happy Phil Bland after finding the meteorite

The recovery operation in a remote area of the lake took three days and involved an aerial spotter, drone and local Aboriginal guides.

"It was an amazing team effort, we got there by the skin of our teeth," Mr Bland told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"It is older than the Earth itself. It's the oldest rock you'll ever hold in your hand.

"It came to us from beyond the orbit of Mars, so in between Mars and Jupiter," he said.

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, in northern South Australia, fills only a few times in a century. When this happens it is Australia's largest lake.

The area around the lake has been inundated with rain in early January, with falls over 150mm reported.

Mr Bland told the ABC the meteorite was believed to be a chondrite, or stony meteorite, and could provide an example of material created during the early formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago.

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