NASA finds large amount of water on Mars meteorite

blackbeauty meteorite NASA finds large amount of water on Mars meteorite

NASA researchers analysing a small meteorite believed to have come from the surface of Mars have found a substantial amount of water, providing yet another inkling into the geology of the nearby planet.

NASA researchers analysing a small meteorite believed to have come from the surface of Mars have found a substantial amount of water, providing yet another inkling into the geology of the nearby planet.

 
The NWA 7034 “Black Beauty” meteorite, which now becomes a class of its own, weighs roughly 11 ounces and contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites. It was found in the Sahara Desert in 2011 and the rock is a whopping 2.1 billion years old, from the so-called Amazonian geologic period on Mars.
 
“The age of NWA 7034 is important because it is significantly older than most other Martian meteorites,” said Mitch Schulte, program scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We now have insight into a piece of Mars' history at a critical time in its evolution.”
 
blackbeauty meteorite NASA finds large amount of water on Mars meteorite
 
The meteorite, which is unlike any previously discovered one from the Red Planet, but matches surface rock identified by the Mars rovers, is expected to challenge the current understanding of Martian geology, according to John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
 
The current theory is that the large amount of water contained in the meteorite is from an interaction between the rocks and water present in Mars' crust, and the different mixture of oxygen isotopes may be the result of an interaction with the Martian atmosphere. The meteorite is made up of cemented fragments of basalt, a rock formed when lava cools.
 
“This Martian meteorite has everything in its composition that you'd want in order to further our understanding of the Red Planet,” said Carl Agee, leader of the analysis team and director and curator at the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics in Albuquerque. “This unique meteorite tells us what volcanism was like on Mars 2 billion years ago. It also gives us a glimpse of ancient surface and environmental conditions on Mars that no other meteorite has ever offered.”
 
Image Credit: NASA