Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy
..
. Mars Exploration News .




MARSDAILY
Ancient Water-rich Meteorite Linked to Martian Crust
by Steve Carr for UNM News
Albuquerque NM (SPX) Jan 07, 2013


NWA 7034, nick­named "Black Beauty," could shed light on the Red Planet's past. Photo credit Carl Agee.

While the Mars' Rovers continue to scour the surface of the Red Planet snapping pictures, zapping rocks and looking at any other clues about its composition, researchers at the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics have made what could be a once in a lifetime discovery right here on Earth involving a rock delivered by an interplanetary free-ride from Mars.

Led by Carl Agee, director and curator, University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics in Albuquerque, a team of researchers, including groups at UC San Diego and the Carnegie Institution, have identified a new class of Martian meteorite that fell to Earth and likely originated from the planet's crust and surface environment.

The meteorite, Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, nicknamed "Black Beauty," is nearly 320 grams in weight and was found in the Saharan Desert in 2011. Now after more than a year of intensive study, Agee's assembled team has determined that the meteorite formed 2.1 billion years ago, the early era of the most recent geologic epoch on Mars called the Amazonian.

Additionally, the meteorite, found to contain an order of magnitude more water (10x's) than any other Martian meteorite, is a nearly perfect match for surface rocks and outcrops that NASA's missions have studied by remote sensing.

The research, supported by NASA's Cosmochemistry Program and Astrobiology Institute, the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium and the National Science Foundation, was published in the January 3, 2013 issue of Science Express.

"This meteorite is unlike anything I've ever seen before," said Agee, who is also a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UNM and an expert in the field who has spent much of his career studying meteorites.

"It's a completely new type of Martian meteorite. It has everything in its composition that you'd want in order to further our understanding of the Red Planet.

This unique Martian meteorite tells us what volcanism was like 2 billion years ago, but it also gives us a glimpse of ancient surface and environmental conditions on Mars that no other meteorite has offered."

Researchers from the Institute of Meteoritics and Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, including Francis McCubbin, Karen Ziegler, Victor Polyak, Zachary Sharp, Yemane Asmerom, and graduate students Nicole Wilson and Stephen Elardo, performed microbeam and x-ray analysis of minerals, water analysis, stable isotope analysis, and age-dating in labs at UNM.

At UCSD, oxygen isotopes of water and carbon dioxide were done by Morgan Nunn, Mark Thiemens, Robina Shaheen and Zhisheng Zhang.

At the Carnegie Institution, researchers Andrew Steele, Marilyn Fogel, Roxane Bowden and Mihaela Glamoclija, studied carbon in the meteorite and discovered that organic carbon (macromolecular) similar to that seen in other Martian meteorites is also found in this meteorite.

"This meteorite, made of brecciated volcanic rock, is consistent with the composition of surface rocks on Mars analyzed by Martian rovers and orbiters," said Agee.

"But, our analysis of the oxygen isotopes, oxygen atoms with different numbers of neutrons, shows that NWA 7034 is not like any other meteorites or planetary samples. The chemistry is consistent with surface rocks that have interacted with the Martian atmosphere, an idea that had been hypothesized by earlier studies. The abundance of water, some 6,000 parts per million, suggests that the meteorite interacted with Martian surface- or ground-water 2.1 billion years ago."

The unique meteorite has some similarities to, but is very different from other Martian meteorites known as SNC (for three members of the group: Shergotty, Nakhla and Chassigny). SNC meteorites currently number 110. So far, they are the only meteoritic samples from Mars that scientists have been able to study in Earth-based laboratories.

However, their point of origin on the Red Planet is uncertain. In fact, recent data from lander and orbiter missions suggest that they are a mismatch for the Martian crust.

"The texture of the NWA meteorite is not like any of the SNC meteorites," explained Steele, who led the carbon analysis at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory.

"It is made of cemented fragments of basalt, rock that forms from rapidly cooled lava, dominated with feldspar and pyroxene, most likely from volcanic activity. This composition is common for lunar samples, but not from other Martian meteorites."

The meteorite will undoubtedly provide additional clues about Mars' warm, wet past and its present cold, dry state as researchers at UNM and others continue to examine the rare rock.

"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," said Steele. "It is the richest Martian meteorite geochemically and further analyses are bound to unleash more surprises."

"For me personally, this is a once in a career discovery. You try to do high quality science, you do good work, persevere, but once in a while, you just get lucky." said Agee.

.


Related Links
New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





MARSDAILY
Mars meteorite has significant water
Washington (UPI) Jan 3, 2013
NASA says a small meteorite, possibly the first discovered from the martian surface, contains 10 times more water than meteorites that later originated on Mars. Scientists have spent a year studying the meteorite dubbed Northwest Africa 7034 found in 2011 in the Sahara Desert and have determined it formed 2.1 billion years ago during the beginning of the most recent geologic period on M ... read more


MARSDAILY
Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

MARSDAILY
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

MARSDAILY
Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

Expedition 34 Spends Christmas in Space

MARSDAILY
Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, New Horizons Cruises On

Dwarf planet Makemake lacks atmosphere

Keck Observations Bring Weather Of Uranus Into Sharp Focus

At Pluto, Moons and Debris May Be Hazardous to New Horizons Spacecraft During Flyby

MARSDAILY
Cassini Instrument Learns New Tricks

From Cassini for the Holidays: A Splendor Seldom Seen

Cassini Spots Mini Nile River on Saturn Moon

Titan, Saturn's Largest Moon, Icier than Scientists Thought

MARSDAILY
Google maps New Year's resolutions around the world

Mission Accomplished for Landsat 5

Hyundai, Kia to go with Google Maps

Satellites eye Great Lakes invasive plant

MARSDAILY
2012 in Polish space activities

Captain's log: real space chat for Star Trek crew

Congress Approves Bill Supporting Human Space Exploration

China's Chengdu aiming to be world's next Silicon Valley

MARSDAILY
Billions and Billions of Planets

ALMA Shows How Young Star and Planets Grow Simultaneously

ALMA Sheds Light on Planet-Forming Gas Streams

A stray planet




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement