A Mars meteorite discovered in the Sahara desert in 2011 is found to be not only older than other Martian meteorite, but it also contains 10 times more water than the other meteorites found on the Martian surface. The Mars meteorite, nicknamed ‘Black Beauty’, is estimated to be 2.1 billion years old. The coal-coloured rock has a striking similarity to the volcanic rocks examined on the Martian surface by NASA.
The rock named as North West Africa (NWA) 7034, weighing 320gms, also gives a glimpse of ancient surface and environmental conditions on Mars which were not offered by other meteorites from Mars.The latest meteorite, NWA 7034, was donated to University of New Mexico by an American who purchased it from a Moroccan meteorite dealer last year.
Scientists performed an array of tests on the meteorite and depending on its chemical nature, they concluded that it was blasted to Earth from Mars. The study authors also found that the ‘Black Beauty’ is the second-oldest known meteorite to have formed from a volcanic eruption.
There are just 100 Mars meteorites currently in collections worldwide. They were all blasted off the Red Planet by some asteroid or cometary impact, and then spent millions of years travelling through space before falling to Earth. Discovery of these Martian meteorites is mostly by chance.
Most space rocks that fall to Earth as meteorites come from the asteroid belt, but a number can be traced to the moon and Mars. Scientists believe an asteroid or some other large object struck Mars, dislodging rocks and sending them into space. Occasionally, some rocks plummet through Earth’s atmosphere.