A meteorite that landed in the Moroccan desert 14 months ago is providing more information about Mars, the planet where it originated. University of Alberta researcher Chris Herd helped in the study of the Tissint meteorite, in which traces of Mars' unique atmosphere are trapped.
"Our team matched traces of gases found inside the Tissint meteorite with samples of Mars' atmosphere collected in 1976 by Viking, NASA's Mars lander mission," said Herd.
Herd explained that 600 million years ago the meteorite started out as a fairly typical volcanic rock on the surface of Mars when it was launched off the planet by the impact of an asteroid.
"At the instant of that impact with Mars, a shock wave shot through the rock," said Herd. "Cracks and fissures within the rock were sealed instantly by the heat, trapping components of Mars' atmosphere inside, and forming black, glassy spots."
The team estimates that for a period between 700,000 and one million years the rock floated through outer space until July, 2011 when it streaked through Earth's atmosphere landing in Morocco.
This is only the fifth time a Martian meteorite landing was witnessed. Herd says the fact that it was picked up just a few months after landing and was not subjected to weathering or contamination on this planet is the key reason why this meteorite is so important.
The Martian weathering involved water, which means water was present on the surface of Mars within the past few hundred million years. But Herd says this meteorite sample does not carry any evidence the water supported any life forms.
"Because the Martian rock was subject to such intense heat any water borne microbial life forms that may have existed deep within cracks of the rock would have been destroyed," said Herd.
Curiosity, NASA's current Mars Rover mission is moving around the Red Planet searching for more information on the history of Mars.
The team's study makes a return mission to Mars that will bring rocks back to Earth all the more crucial, "Martian rocks delivered to Earth by a space craft would provide the best opportunity to see if life was ever clinging to the surface of Mars."
Published online Oct.11 in the journal Science.
University of Alberta: http://www.ualberta.ca
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
I'm pretty sure that meteorite image is a Sikhote-Alin, which landed in Russia.
Yep, it's just a stock image.
A French scientist has unravelled a formula for trick roping, made famous in Western movies, to teach himself how to lasso like a cowboy.
An astrophysicist is using something called the Z machine at Sandia National Lab to recreate the conditions on a white dwarf star — only for a few nanoseconds, but still, enough to study.
The raw ingredients in famous brands are vulnerable to political upheaval, changes in agricultural practices and natural disasters
The more that scientists stare at it, the more a strange signal from the center of the Milky Way galaxy appears to be the result of dark matter annihilation. If confirmed, it would be the first direct evidence for dark ...
A highly sensitive magnetic material that could transform computer hard drives and energy storage devices has been discovered.
The discovery of carbon-rich spheres and tunnels in a meteorite from Mars may mean that the Red Planet was once filled with life
Is there a pattern behind prime numbers? Networks that reproduce the mathematical relationships between primes and non-primes could tell us
In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket.
Alex Bellos: The world’s top graphic designers explore the ancient geometrical concept in poetry, food, sculpture, hairstyles and decorative art.Alex Bellos
The famed "blueberries" of Mars discovered by NASA rovers might just be meteorite impact debris, instead of evidence of ancient water.