Research groups in Australia found the oldest mineral grains on Earth.These tiny zirconium silicate crystals have ages that reach 4.3 billion years, making them the oldest materials found on Earth so far. The rocks and zircons set a lower limit on the age of Earth of 4.3 billion years, because the planet itself must be older than anything that lies on its surface.The nearest body to Earth, the moon, does not suffer from the resurfacing problems that cover Earth's landscape.

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More than 70 meteorites have fallen to Earth to have their ages calculated by radiometric dating.

The oldest of these have ages between 4.4 and 4.5 billion years.

Greenland boasts the Isua Supracrustal rocks (3.7 to 3.8 billion years old), while rocks in Swaziland are 3.4 to 3.5 billion years.

Samples in Western Australia run 3.4 to 3.6 billion years old.

Samples of the meteorite show a spread from 4.53 to 4.58 billion years.

Scientists interpret this range as the time it took for the solar system to evolve, a gradual event that took place over approximately 50 million years.

Related: Nola Taylor Redd is a contributing writer for

She loves all things space and astronomy-related, and enjoys the opportunity to learn more.

In 1953, Clair Cameron Patterson measured ratios of lead isotopes in samples that put tight constraints on Earth's age.