By Becky Ferreira / vice.com

n the spring of 2020, an amazing relic was discovered in a remote region of the Sahara desert: an ultra-rare chunk of an embryonic planet that existed before Earth was born. 

Known as Erg Chech 002 (EC 002), the meteorite was forged within the crust of an ancient protoplanet, a small celestial body that serves as a building block for planets. The volcanic space rock is “the oldest known lava” that has ever fallen to Earth and offers an unprecedented glimpse of planetary formation in the early solar system, according to a study published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists led by Jean-Alix Barrat, a professor of geochemistry at the University of Western Brittany in France, jumped at the opportunity to examine this extraordinary time capsule from the infancy of the solar system, which is unlike anything that has been seen before. 

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