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Waspie_Dwarf

Black Beauty rock 'is oldest chunk of Mars'

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Black Beauty rock 'is oldest chunk of Mars'

A rock discovered in the Sahara Desert is the oldest Martian meteorite ever found, scientists believe.

Earlier research had suggested it was about two billion years old, but new tests indicate the rock actually dates to 4.4 billion years ago.

The dark and glossy meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, would have formed when the Red Planet was in its infancy.

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Nice find!

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Yes it is! SyFy will have a movie out based on this shortly.

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How do they know where the rock came from?

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How do they know where the rock came from?

Because it is has a chemical signature consistent with that of Mars.

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How do they know where the rock came from?

I'll admit to being ignorant of how sophisticated the instruments are/were on the various probes we sent to Mars. I would assume a mass spectrometer could give you the chemistry of Martian rocks and/or soil and then could be compared to the meteorite sample, just not sure if one was part of the instrument package.

Failing that, I would have no idea how they would know with certainty the rock originated on Mars, since we have no physical samples that have been collected from the red planet for comparison. And also, would rocks on Mars necessarily be of a homogeneous nature? If Earth is any example we have many, many different minerals of various chemical compositions, so what are the chances of the meteorite matching a random sample from Mars? The meteorite might not match any know terrestrial rocks, but does that prove it came from Mars?

If someone knows the answer or has a link I would be interested.

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If someone knows the answer or has a link I would be interested.

How do we know that these rocks come from Mars?

It is more difficult to prove that there are meteorites from Mars because no astronauts or spacecraft have yet brought material back to Earth. But Martian meteorites have clues to their origin buried inside. There are small pockets of glass in these rocks, and trapped inside the glass is gas that has the same composition as Mars' atmosphere.

The glass formed when the rocks were ejected from the surface by impact. The shock of the collision melted bits of the rock. The melt cooled very quickly, trapping inside it the surrounding atmosphere. We can melt the glass again, and analyse the gas. This is how we know the rocks come from Mars, because Mars' atmosphere is very different from any other planet.

Source: Natural History Museum, London

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