Newly-Discovered Martian Meteorite Is Unlike Any Other Rock From Mars

Martian meteorite

Photo: NASA

A water-rich Martian meteorite is unlike any meteorite scientists have ever found from the Red Planet.  

The meteorite has about 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites, according to the study published today, Jan. 3, in Science Express. The high concentration of water suggests that the rock interacted with water near the Martian surface some 2.1 billion years ago, when the meteorite is believed to have formed.

The meteorite also contains basaltic rock (rock that forms from rapidly cooled lava), which matches the composition of the crust of Mars based on previous analysis from NASA’s Mars rovers. This is cool because it’s the first Martian meteorite likely to have originated from the Martian crust, researchers say.

“Perhaps most exciting, is that the high water content could mean there was an interaction of the rocks with surface water either from volcanic magma, or from fluids from impacting comets during that time,” study co-author Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution said in a statement. “It is the richest Martian meteorite geochemically and further analyses are bound to unleash more surprises.”

The space rock was found in 2011 in the Sahara Desert. It weights 11 ounces and is nicknamed “Black Beauty.” 

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