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Northwest Africa 6963

Martian, shergottite
Found in Southern Morocco, 2011

NWA 6963 is a shergottite Martian meteorite that was first discovered near the river Oued Touflit in Morocco during the autumn of 2011. The shergottite group takes its name from Shergotty — a Mars meteorite that was seen to fall in Bihar, India in the year 1865.

After the initial NWA 6963 find, meteorite hunters thoroughly searched the area and additional pieces were found, some of which display a shiny, dark fusion crust. The presence of crust, together with its minimal weathering, suggest that NWA 6963 may be a fairly recent fall.

Classification was carried out at the Institute of Meteoritics at UNM Albuquerque and examination of a thin section showed the primary composition to be pyroxene (a mineral commonly found in volcanic rocks) and the glassy mineral maskelynite that is formed by shock melting in meteorites and related impacts.

We know that NWA 6963 originated on Mars because of the pioneering work of Drs. Johnson and Bogard on a meteorite that was found in Antarctica in 1979. The two scientists discovered that tiny amounts of gas trapped within the Antarctic meteorite were a close match to the thin atmosphere of Mars, as recorded by the Viking robot landers during the 1970s. This experiment was later confirmed by additional studies of several other Martian meteorites showing, without a doubt, that NWA 6963 and others like it, journeyed here to Earth from the Red Planet.

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