Martian meteorite gives glimpse of a watery past on Mars.
After a year of study, NASA has revealed details about the meteorite NWA 7034 “Black Beauty”, which was found in the Sahara Desert in 2011. The 320 gram meteorite contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites previously analysed, and is thought to have formed 2.1 billion years ago at the start of the most recent geologic period on Mars, known as the Amazonian.
“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.”
“The contents of this meteorite may challenge many long held notions about Martian geology,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These findings also present an important reference frame for the Curiosity rover as it searches for reduced organics in the minerals exposed in the bedrock of Gale Crater.”
NWA 7034 is made of cemented fragments of basalt, rock that forms from rapidly cooled lava. The fragments are primarily feldspar and pyroxene, most likely from volcanic activity.