Do we really have Mars rocks here on Earth? Yes, we do! Occasionally meteorites, probably from the asteroid belt, strike the planet Mars with enough force to throw pieces out into space. Against all odds, some of those fragments travel millions of miles and impact with our own planet. In this exclusive and informative YouTube educational short, planetary scientist Dr. Tanya Harrison, talks about her work, martian meteorites, and some of the wonders of the mysterious Red Planet.
NORTHWEST AFRICA 6963 (Martian)
Martian Shergottite, Found in Morocco, 2011
Northwest Africa (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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NORTHWEST AFRICA 7397 (Martian)
Martian Shergottite, Found near Smara, Morocco in 2012
Northwest Africa 7397 is a martian meteorite found in the dry deserts of Africa. It was examined by meteorite scientists A. Irving and S. Kuehner at the University of Washington and classified as a shergottite. The superb slices were expertly prepared on a special hi-tech saw for maximum surface area. The amazing fragments allow you to clearly view greenish-hue interior and some specimens have fusion crust! Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of the Red Planet.
NORTHWEST AFRICA 8159 (Martian)
Martian Augite-Basalt, found in Morocco in 2013
A scant 235 meteorites are listed in the Meteoritical Bulletin as Martian meteorites, making them among the most scarce commodities that any human has ever owned or touched. Of the 235 known Martians, the vast majority belong to the SNC class, that being an acronym for three celebrated Martian meteorites: Shergotty (fell Bihar, India, 1865); Nakhla (fell Al Buhayrah, Egypt, 1911); Chassigny (fell Champagne-Ardenne, France, 1815). The rare Martian polymict breccias account for another 17 recognized Martians. And, relevant to this extraordinary lot, the “Meteoritical Bulletin” lists two meteorites from Mars that exist all by themselves — literally in a class of their own.
One is the OPX class, whose sole listed member is the puzzling Alan Hills 84001 meteorite which, after being discovered in Antarctica, caused a worldwide sensation when some researchers believed they had found signs of fossilized life within it. Examples of that meteorite are not available for sale to collectors. The other class with a sole intriguing member is described as “Martian (augite-basalt)” in the bulletin. The meteorite itself is NWA 8159 and only 149.4 grams are known to exist in all of the world.
NORTHWEST AFRICA 11288 (Martian)
Martian Shergottite, found in Morocco in 2015
A Martian impact melt is most likely the result of a giant meteorite crashing into Mars and melting Martian target rock into a new form. That in itself is remarkable. As any type of impact melt — even in the abundant chondrite family — is highly unusual. So, here we have an exceptionally rare Martian impact melt that also displays vugs.
The word vug is a geological term that describes a cavity found within a rock matrix. In terrestrial formations, vugs are a prime environment for the formation of crystals of varying types. Vugs are almost never seen in meteorites. The first known Martian meteorites were identified by the small pockets of Martian atmosphere they contained. It is likely, or possible, that the comparatively large vugs in NWA 11288 once held within them the thin and alien atmosphere of Mars! The total known find weight of this rare meteorite is 407 grams. We have very few slices available.
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