Aerial photo of Barringer Crater which helped calculating the age of the Earth. Image: wikipedia. About 50,000 years ago, an asteroid hurled down from space to form Meteor Crater in Arizona: the Barringer Crater. Shards of that asteroid have been collected from the crater rim and named for the nearby Canyon Diablo. In 1953, the American geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson (June 2, 1922 – December 5, 1995) measured ratios of lead isotopes in samples that put tight constraints on Earth’s age. The Canyon Diablo meteorite is important because it represents a class of meteorites with components that allow for more precise dating. 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. The age determined from the Canyon Diablo meteorite has been confirmed by hundreds of other age determinations, from both terrestrial samples and other meteorites.