Mars rock found in Sahara Desert provides new insight into Red Planet’s habitability
Specialists were examining a fragment of a Martian meteorite found on Earth in the Moroccan Sahara Desert in 2011 and originally reported in 2013. According to the scientists’ research published in the journal Science Advances, the Mars rock, known as NWA 7034 or “black beauty”, weighs 320 grams and contains information about the beginnings of the red planet.
(NWA 7034, often known as the ‘black beauty’; NASA image) The discovery of shock damage in a 4.45 billion year old Martian zircon adds to our understanding of the dynamic processes that have influenced the surface of early Mars, as Cox said. in a Curtin University paper.
This grain is undoubtedly a unique gift from Mars. High pressure shock deformation has never been observed in Black Beauty minerals before. “Shock deformation” to which Cox refers is the slight damage induced in rock by shock waves released after an impact.
According to lead author Morgan Cox, this rock, from a collection of fragmented rock shards and minerals, mostly basalt, is a treasure trove of information about the damage caused by meteorite impacts on Mars. “It’s a unique gift from Mars”
Experts say ‘shocked’ zircons can only be discovered on Earth in impact craters like Vredefort in South Africa, Sudbury in Canada and Chicxulub in Mexico. The rock analyzed in this research was found to have traces of the mineral zircon, which crystallizes from magma and is considered a “geochronometer”, which records elapsed time.
Another reason these findings are important is that scientists believe Mars must have been habitable much later than previously thought. The last one is where the dinosaur killing event happened, resulting in a mass extinction. In a paper, co-author Dr Aaron Cavosie said that previous studies of zircon in Martian meteorites suggested circumstances suitable for life may have existed 4.2 billion years ago due to the absence of substantial impact damage.
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