The largest piece of Mars ever to fall to Earth is being displayed for the primary time.
The hefty chunk of Mars weighs 32 kilos (14.5 kilograms) and measures 10 inches (25 centimeters) throughout at its widest level. It was unveiled Wednesday (Sept. 1) on the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, which additionally homes roughly 6,000 extraterrestrial rocks, together with the most important piece of moon rock and the oldest igneous rock, fashioned from volcanic exercise, within the solar system.
“Martian rocks can fall to Earth as meteorites,” Carl Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics on the University of New Mexico, advised Live Science. “They are ejected off Mars by large, energetic impact events.”
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The Martian rock, named Taoudenni 002, is “by far the largest complete uncut Martian meteorite on Earth,” stated Agee, who was concerned in confirming the rock did certainly originate from the Red Planet.
There are round 300 items of Martian rock on Earth, totaling round 500 kilos (227 kg). However, collectors typically break them aside to promote them individually, so the precise variety of identified Martian meteorites on Earth is between 100 and 150, Agee stated.
After highly effective impacts eject the rocks from Mars, they drift by space and finally find yourself on an Earth-crossing orbit across the Sun.
An area meteor hunter found Taoudenni 002 close to a desert salt mine in Mali earlier than world-leading meteorite supplier Darryl Pitt acquired it for the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in April 2021. “The meteorite fall was not witnessed, but it was likely recent,” Agee stated. “In the last few 100 years perhaps,” on account of its effectively preserved situation, he added.
After buying the meteorite in Mali, Pitt despatched a small pattern of the rock to Agee to substantiate its origin.
Martian meteorites have particular chemical signatures, and the minerals and components in Taoudenni 002 completely matched the identified Martian minerals, Agee stated.
“It is a shergottite, which is the main type of Martian meteorite,” Agee stated. “It contains the minerals olivine, pyroxene and shock-transformed feldspar,” which fashioned from the Mars impression that ejected it.
The meteorites’ composition additionally hinted at how the rock was created. “It most probably was fashioned in a volcanic episode on Mars greater than 100 million years in the past,” Agee stated.
Even bigger Martian rocks could also be hidden on Earth, Agee stated, doubtlessly “buried below a sand dune within the Sahara, or deep within the ice in Antarctica, or maybe on the backside of the ocean.”
Originally printed on Live Science.