Scientists have established the origin of one of the oldest Martian meteorites

(ORDO NEWS) — Even among the rare and precious Martian meteorites, NWA 7034 stands out, formed 4.5 billion years ago when the red planet first formed a crust.

It is the only Martian meteorite ever found with a breccia (consisting of several rock fragments), which makes the place on Mars where it came from especially interesting for planetary scientists. The study was published in Nature Communications.

NWA 7034 was so large and significant that it was named Black Beauty. Its ground parts were used to prove that terrestrial organisms could survive on Martian soil for a while.

The Martian origin of Black Beauty was quickly established due to its chemical composition, but it took 11 years and the help of a supercomputer to reveal its place of origin.

Like all Martian meteorites, NWA 7034 was ejected into space when the asteroid smashed into Mars with such force that the impact threw pieces of the planet’s surface into space, eventually colliding with Earth.

There are millions of large and intact craters on Mars that can be identified from orbiting satellites, so finding one from which a particular rock was knocked out millions of years ago can seem like an impossible task. However, Dr. Anthony Lagaine of Curtin University explained the steps his team took to narrow down the search.

“We understand that all Martian meteorites have recently been ejected.”

A piece of rock knocked off the surface of a planet is unlikely to find a stable orbit and then be knocked off.

If it collides with a planet, it is usually in the first 20 million years after being launched into space.

At the same time, the crater must be more than 3 kilometers in diameter in order to throw stones at the required speed.

The Martian satellites mean we can accurately measure the size of the crater, but the age is harder to determine.

Lagine and co-authors created a new method. Strong impacts eject rocks at varying speeds, and those below escape speed create secondary craters around the original location.

Erosion on Mars is slower than on Earth, but small craters fill up with dust storms, so a large crater is re-formed surrounded by smaller ones.


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