Scientists have discovered a fragment of a protoplanet in an Algerian dune sea, a remote region of the Sahara desert, in spring 2020. The meteorite is known as Erg Chech 002 (EC 002) and has existed before the earth was born, dating back about 4.566 billion years. It is the oldest known lava that has ever fallen to Earth. EC 002 was forged in the crust of an ancient protoplanet — a large body of matter orbiting around a sun or star that serves as a building block for planets.
“The age was not the sole point of interest,” Jean-Alix Barrat, a lead scientist, told Vice. “We were extremely interested by the genesis of such extraterrestrial andesitic melts and on the processes of formation of primordial crusts. Such samples are extremely precious.”