Meteorite from the Martian crust has a good range of water content

Martian meteorite NWA 7034 aka Black beauty (Credit: NASA)

Researchers found a 2-billion years old meteorite from the Martian crust, named as NWA 7034 (NWA from Northwest Africa), in the Sahara desert in 2011 and recently it has been found that the meteorite contains ten times more water than any other meteorite from the Mars. The meteorite has also the sufficient amount of organic carbon.

Researchers have estimated the age of the rock from the early era of the most recent geologic epoch on Mars, the Amazonian epoch.

“We now have insight into a piece of Mars’ history at a critical time in its evolution,” said Mitch Schulte, program scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters.

The meteorite was nicknamed as “Black Beauty” and weighs about 320 grams (11 ounces). Researchers from the University of New Mexico, the University of California at San Diego and the Carnegie Institution in Washington check for the mineral and chemical composition, age of the meteorite and the water content.

“The texture of the NWA meteorite is not like any of the SNC meteorites. It is made of cemented fragments of basalt, rock that forms from rapidly cooled lava, dominated with feldspar and pyroxene, most likely from volcanic activity. This composition is common for lunar samples, but not from other Martian meteorites. This unusual meteorite’s chemistry suggests it came from the Martian crust. It is the first link thus far of any meteorite to the crust. Our carbon analysis also showed the presence of macromolecular organic carbon in feldspar grains associated with iron oxides, hinting that perhaps there is a different non-biological process at work than that explaining the presence of macromolecular carbon in other Martian meteorites.” Co-author Andrew Steele, who led the carbon analysis at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, told.

Although the composition of the meteorite is different from the other known meteorites but it matches the surface rocks and the outcrops, according to NASA.

“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.”

“The contents of this meteorite may challenge many long held notions about Martian geology,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement. “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.”