Wednesday, April 6, 2011

4.5-Billion-Year-Old Antarctic Meteorite Yields New Mineral

A meteorite discovered in Antarctica in 1969 has just divulged a modern secret: a new mineral, now called Wassonite.

The new mineral found in the 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite was tiny — less than one-hundredth as wide as a human hair. Still, that was enough to excite the researchers who announced the discovery Tuesday (April 5).

"Wassonite is a mineral formed from only two elements, sulfur and titanium, yet it possesses a unique crystal structure that has not been previously observed in nature," NASA space scientist Keiko Nakamura-Messenger said in a statement. ...

When meteors hit the ground they are called meteorites. Most are fragments of asteroids (space rocks that travel through the solar system), and others are mere cosmic dust shed by comets. Rare meteorites are impact debris from the surfaces of the moon and Mars.

"Meteorites, and the minerals within them, are windows to the formation of our solar system," said co-discoverer Lindsay Keller, space scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Through these kinds of studies we can learn about the conditions that existed and the processes that were occurring then."

via 4.5-Billion-Year-Old Antarctic Meteorite Yields New Mineral | NASA Research | Meteorites & Early Solar System | LiveScience.

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