Fragments of asteroids and comets hit our planet constantly — and sometimes they resist passage through the atmosphere, reaching the ground like meteorites. That’s exactly what happened to a fragment from Mars, considered the largest originated on the Red Planet. Now, this rock is on display at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, United States, along with 6,000 other space objects.
The meteorite, called “Taoudenni 002”, weighs 14.5 kg and measures 25 cm. It was found by a meteorite hunter in the Mali desert and was later acquired by Darryl Pitt, the world’s leading meteorite dealer, for the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum. There were no observers who witnessed the drop of the object, but Carl Agee, director of the Meteoritic Institute at the University of New Mexico, believes the event was recent. “Over the last 100 years, perhaps, due to the state of conservation”, he estimates.
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After acquiring the object, Pitt sent a small sample of the rock to Agee to confirm its origin. Martian meteorites have specific chemical signatures, and the compounds present in Taoudenni 002 correspond to the Martian minerals we know. According to the director, it is a “shergogite”, considered the main type of Martian meteorite. “It contains the minerals olivine, pyroxene and feldspar, transformed by shock,” he explained. These compounds are likely the result of the impact that ejected the fragment into space.
For Agee, the rock probably formed during an episode of a volcanic eruption on Mars that took place more than 100 million years ago. The object probably came here after some intense comet or asteroid impact on the Red Planet, which must have released rocks that began to wander through space, until they entered an orbit around the Sun and eventually crossed Earth’s. .
The director considers this to be the largest martian meteorite on our planet. Today, there are about 300 pieces of rock coming from Mars on Earth, but there may be even larger ones, only they are still hidden — they may be “buried under a dune in the Sahara, deep in the ice of Antarctica, or perhaps, in the ocean bottom,” he proposed.
Source: Live Science
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