Thursday, January 19, 2012

Newly Found Meteorites Came From Mars, Scientists Confirm

PopSci - Meteorite chunks that fell in Morocco last summer came from Mars, yielding an unexpected 15-pound sample of the Red Planet, scientists confirmed Tuesday. It’s the first time in 50 years — and only the fifth time ever — that scientists have chemically confirmed that pieces of rock came from Mars.

The rocks were found in December and analyzed by a committee of meteorite experts. The biggest one weighs a little more than 2 pounds.

It’s a bonanza for scientists (not to mention collectors) who would love to get their hands on a fresh Mars sample return. These igneous rocks have probably been hurtling through the solar system for a few million years, so they’re not fresh in terms of their Martian removal. But they’re certainly fresher than the previous Mars samples — the other ones sat on Earth for at least decades, and in some cases millions of years. The meteorites were sheared off Mars after an impact.

Meteorite dealer Darryl Pitt, who is selling a large stock of samples, said he has sold dozens of specimens already. Wednesday morning, he bought some more material from a Berber seller in Morocco, he said in an e-mail.                   More