Ancient asteroids formed at Solar System's start

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Washington, Mar 24 (UNI) Three asteroids have been identified as our Solar System's oldest objects, scientists suggests.

Scientists from the University of Maryland using visible and infrared data collected from telescopes have identified these asteroids.

These ancient asteroids were relatively unchanged since they formed some 4.55 billion years ago and were older than the oldest meteorites ever found on Earth, said scientist Jessica Sunshine.

''We have identified asteroids that are not represented in our meteorite collection and which date from the earliest periods of the Solar System,'' said Ms Sunshine, a senior research scientist in the University of Maryland's department of astronomy.

''These asteroids are prime candidates for future space missions that could collect and return samples to Earth providing a more detailed understanding of the Solar System's first few millions of years,'' she stated.

Meteorites found on Earth do contain small amounts of these earliest condensing materials. As seen in meteorites, these bright white ancient materials, the so-called calcium, aluminum-rich inclusions, or CAIs, can be as large as a centimeter in diameter.

Scientists have used the age of CAIs to define the age of the Solar System.

''Several CAI-rich asteroids have been identified that contain 2-3 times more CAI material than any known meteorite,'' Ms Sunshine said.

To simulate the weightless environment of space, the laboratory uses its neutral buoyancy facility, the only such facility located on a college campus.

UNI XC PD RN0833

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