10 times more precious than gold meteorites found in Morocco
Baku, January 19 (AZERTAC). Scientists have confirmed that 15 pounds of meteorite from Mars fell in Morocco last July. It is only the fifth time in history scientists have chemically confirmed Martian meteorites that people witnessed falling. The last shower that was found `fresh` - and thus uncontaminated by Earth chemicals - was in 1962. The rocks are incredibly valuable - 10 times more precious than gold - because no Mars rover or lander has yet returned Martian material to Earth. The only source for Martian rock is these showers. The fireball was spotted in the sky six months ago, but the rocks weren`t discovered on the ground in North Africa until the end of December. A special committee of meteorite experts, including some NASA scientists, confirmed the test results Tuesday. They certified that 15 pounds of meteorite recently collected came from Mars. The biggest rock weighs over 2 pounds. All the known Martian rocks on Earth add up to less than 240 pounds. Most of the Martian rocks on Earth have been around for centuries or longer and have been found in Antarctica or the desert. They look so similar to dark Earth rocks that if they fell in other places, such as Maryland, they would blend right in and never be discovered. Scientists can tell they are Martian, because as Mars is more geologically active, its rocks tend to be much younger - millions of years old instead of hundreds of millions or more - than those from the moon or asteroids. The new samples were scooped up by dealers from those who found them. Even before the official certification, scientists at NASA, museums and universities scrambled to buy or trade these meteorites. `It`s a free sample from Mars. That`s what these are, except you have to pay the dealers for it,` said University of Alberta meteorite expert Chris Herd, who heads the committee that certified the discovery.
Known Martian meteorite falls happen only once every 50 years or so - 1815 in France, 1865 in India, 1911 in Egypt and 1962 in Nigeria - this is a once-in-a-career or even one-in-a-lifetime event.