4.5 Billion-Year-Old Meteorite Found in Australia

This 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite was found in the Australian outback. Curtin University

Researchers have uncovered a meteorite older than Earth itself, which crash-landed in the Australian outback.

In late November, a group of remote cameras called the Desert Fireball Network spotted a meteorite plummeting to the ground in the Lake Eyre region of South Australia. After sorting through footage gathered by the various cameras, scientists from Curtin University in Perth narrowed down the likely landing spot of the meteorite, and on New Year's Eve they found it—in a stretch of barely accessible mud 4 miles from the lake's shoreline.

Tests revealed that the meteorite is 4.5 billion years old, 3.7 pounds in weight and made of iron. It was likely formed at the dawn of our solar system, team leader Phil Bland told the Australian Broadcast Corporation. The team also determined where it likely came from: an orbit between Mars and Jupiter.

"This meteorite is of special significance as the camera observations used to calculate [where it fell] have also enabled the solar system orbit of the meteorite to be calculated, giving important contextual information for future study," Bland said.

The team found the area where it has crashed, a small indentation in the mud, shortly before it started raining, which would have washed away hints of its location and made it impossible to find. "The fact we have managed to retrieve the meteorite at all is remarkable," team engineer Jonathan Paxman told ABC.