martian meteorites

Even though we still don’t have a lot of time to play together, we are finishing up a few personal projects. This one is a Martian UFO, based on the design of the Xeno Staff. It functions as a storage for Martian drops.

The build took quite a lot of Martian Conduit Plating (~1000) and Shroomite Plating (~1500), along with Blue Gemspark, Meteorite Brick and Luminite. The screens are made of painted Rune Wallpaper.

Ancient, massive asteroid impact could explain Martian geological mysteries

The origin and nature of Mars is mysterious. It has geologically distinct hemispheres, with smooth lowlands in the north and cratered, high-elevation terrain in the south. The red planet also has two small oddly-shaped oblong moons and a composition that sets it apart from that of the Earth.

New research by University of Colorado Boulder professor Stephen Mojzsis outlines a likely cause for these mysterious features of Mars: a colossal impact with a large asteroid early in the planet’s history. This asteroid – about the size of Ceres, one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System – smashed into Mars, ripped off a chunk of the northern hemisphere and left behind a legacy of metallic elements in the planet’s interior. The crash also created a ring of rocky debris around Mars that may have later clumped together to form its moons, Phobos and Deimos.

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SWRI-LED TEAM DISCOVERS LULL IN MARS’ GIANT IMPACT HISTORY:
THIS CALM BEFORE THE STORM SUPPORTS LATE HEAVY BOMBARDMENT THEORY

From the earliest days of our solar system’s history, collisions between astronomical objects have shaped the planets and changed the course of their evolution. Studying the early bombardment history of Mars, scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the University of Arizona have discovered a 400-million-year lull in large impacts early in Martian history.

This discovery is published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience in a paper titled, “A post-accretionary lull in large impacts on early Mars.” SwRI’s Dr. Bill Bottke, who serves as principal investigator of the Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET) within NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), is the lead author of the paper. Dr. Jeff Andrews-Hanna, from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the University of Arizona, is the paper’s coauthor.

“The new results reveal that Mars’ impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we’ve inferred for the Moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury,” Bottke said. “We refer to the period for the later impacts as the ‘Late Heavy Bombardment.’ The new results add credence to this somewhat controversial theory. However, the lull itself is an important period in the evolution of Mars and other planets. We like to refer to this lull as the ‘doldrums.’”

The early impact bombardment of Mars has been linked to the bombardment history of the inner solar system as a whole. Borealis, the largest and most ancient basin on Mars, is nearly 6,000 miles wide and covers most of the planet’s northern hemisphere. New analysis found that the rim of Borealis was excavated by only one later impact crater, known as Isidis. This sets strong statistical limits on the number of large basins that could have formed on Mars after Borealis. Moreover, the preservation states of the four youngest large basins – Hellas, Isidis, Argyre, and the now-buried Utopia – are strikingly similar to that of the larger, older Borealis basin. The similar preservation states of Borealis and these younger craters indicate that any basins formed in-between should be similarly preserved. No other impact basins pass this test.

“Previous studies estimated the ages of Hellas, Isidis, and Argyre to be 3.8 to 4.1 billion years old,” Bottke said. “We argue the age of Borealis can be deduced from impact fragments from Mars that ultimately arrived on Earth. These Martian meteorites reveal Borealis to be nearly 4.5 billion years old – almost as old as the planet itself.”

The new results reveal a surprising bombardment history for the red planet. A giant impact carved out the northern lowlands 4.5 billion years ago, followed by a lull of approximately 400 million years. Then another period of bombardment produced giant impact basins between 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago. The age of the impact basins requires two separate populations of objects striking Mars. The first wave of impacts was associated with formation of the inner planets, followed by a second wave striking the Martian surface much later.

IMAGE….Mars bears the scars of five giant impacts, including the ancient giant Borealis basin (top of globe), Hellas (bottom right), and Argyre (bottom left). An SwRI-led team discovered that Mars experienced a 400-million-year lull in impacts between the formation of Borealis and the younger basins.

Lull in Mars' giant impact history discovered

From the earliest days of our solar system’s history, collisions between astronomical objects have shaped the planets and changed the course of their evolution. Studying the early bombardment history of Mars, scientists at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the University of Arizona have discovered a 400-million-year lull in large impacts early in Martian history.

This discovery is published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience in a paper titled, “A post-accretionary lull in large impacts on early Mars.” SwRI’s Dr. Bill Bottke, who serves as principal investigator of the Institute for the Science of Exploration Targets (ISET) within NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), is the lead author of the paper. Dr. Jeff Andrews-Hanna, from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the University of Arizona, is the paper’s coauthor.

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High-pressure researchers in Bayreuth solve meteorite mystery

A research group at the University of Bayreuth has found a long-sought explanation for the apparent contradictions implicit in the composition of lunar and Martian meteorites. In cooperation with the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble and research partners in Lyon and Vienna, the Bayreuth scientists led by Prof. Leonid Dubrovinsky were able to demonstrate how meteorites could contain within narrow spaces minerals whose formation conditions are quite different. These findings have now been published in the journal Nature Communications, providing new impetus for meteorite research.

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The Brain Scoop:
Meteorites from Spaaaaaaace!

We filmed this episode about a month ago, but ever since then I’ve not been able to stop thinking about our planet in context of the rest of our solar system; the idea of us existing within a galaxy, within a universe. I literally spent all weekend on my couch staring at the ceiling trying to fathom what must have existed outside of the singularity from which the Big Bang erupted - it’s entirely unfathomable that there was nothing. Even when an unimaginable amount of distance and time coincide to bring us something like a martian meteorite, the unlikelihood of it all, that after millions of years of this item floating around our solar system it eventually lands on our planet and we are able to use technology at our disposal in order to determine its fundamental origins. That other-worldliness is truly humbling, considering that singular piece of rock has experienced more life events within the duration of its existence than anybody living ever will. 

Did you know the Museum’s Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites contains chunks of the planet Mars? When comets or large asteroids slam into our neighboring planet, the impact can blast rocks into orbit around the Sun–and occasionally onto a collision course with Earth! 

How do we know these rocks are from Mars? The proof comes from gases trapped in the rocks, which exactly match the Martian atmosphere. 

Learn more about meteorites from Mars and find these specimens by downloading Explorer, the Museum’s wayfinding app, now available in Beta.

AMNH/D.Finnin

Martian Meteorite Provides Further Evidence Of Water On Mars: 

NASA has discovered further evidence that there was once water on Mars — and the agency didn’t even need to leave Earth to find it. A group of researchers has discovered that a 30-pound Martian meteorite found in the Yamato Glacier in Antarctica features curved micro-tunnels that are consistent with moving water. According to NASA, the discovery is “reviving debate in the scientific community over life on Mars.”

“The planet is revealing the presence of an active water reservoir that may also have a significant carbon component,” says Everett Gibson, a scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The meteorite itself is 1.3 billion years old, and is believed to have landed in Antarctica 50,000 years ago. It was first discovered in 2000. In addition to the tunnels, the meteorite also features tiny, carbon-rich “spherules” squished in between the various layers of rock, a phenomenon similar to another Martian meteorite that landed in Egypt in 1911.

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“THE PLANET IS REVEALING THE PRESENCE OF AN ACTIVE WATER RESERVOIR.”

Of course, this is far from the first evidence of water on Mars. Study of the planet itself has shown water possibly seeping out from the ground, while it’s believed that in the past the planet was home to lakes that could have supported life. But while that research was done from afar, thanks to machines like the Curiosity rover, the meteorites allow scientists to study these phenomenon up close, which lets them perform a much wider array of tests.

“We can never eliminate the possibility of contamination in any meteorite,” says Lauren White, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “But these features are nonetheless interesting and show that further studies of these meteorites should continue.”

VEINS ON MARS WERE FORMED BY EVAPORATING ANCIENT LAKES

** Synopsis: The Open University and University of Leicester publish study determining the fluids once present in Martian Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater; Results provide evidence for long and varied history of water in Mars Gale Crater; Sulphur and iron rich groundwater in Gale Crater was habitable by Earth standards; Mudstones in Gale Crater close in composition to rocks in Watchet Bay in North Devon, highlighting a terrestrial analogue. **

Mineral veins found in Mars’s Gale Crater were formed by the evaporation of ancient Martian lakes, a new study has shown.

The research, by Mars Science Laboratory participating scientists at the Open University and the University of Leicester, used the Mars Curiosity rover to explore Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater on Mars, examining the mineralogy of veins that were paths for groundwater in mudstones.

The study suggests that the veins formed as the sediments from the ancient lake were buried, heated to about 50 degrees Celsius and corroded.

Professor John Bridges from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy said: “The taste of this Martian groundwater would be rather unpleasant, with about 20 times the content of sulphate and sodium than bottled mineral water for instance!

“However as Dr. Schwenzer from The Open University concludes, some microbes on Earth do like sulphur and iron rich fluids, because they can use those two elements to gain energy. Therefore, for the question of habitability at Gale Crater the taste of the water is very exciting news.”

The researchers suggest that evaporation of ancient lakes in the Yellowknife Bay would have led to the formation of silica and sulphate-rich deposits.

Subsequent dissolution by groundwater of these deposits – which the team predict are present in the Gale Crater sedimentary succession – led to the formation of pure sulphate veins within the Yellowknife Bay mudstone.

The study predicts the original precipitate was likely gypsum, which dehydrated during the lake’s burial.

The team compared the Gale Crater waters with fluids modeled for Martian meteorites shergottites, nakhlites and the ancient meteorite ALH 84001, as well as rocks analysed by the Mars Exploration rovers and with terrestrial ground and surface waters.

The aqueous solution present during sediment alteration associated with mineral vein formation at Gale Crater was found to be high in sodium, potassium and silicon, but had low magnesium, iron and aluminium concentrations and had a near neutral to alkaline pH level.

The mudstones with sulphate veins in the Gale Crater were also found to be close in composition to rocks in Watchet Bay in North Devon, highlighting a terrestrial analogue which supports the model of dissolution of a mixed silica and sulphate-rich shallow horizon to form pure sulphate veins.

Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity Project Scientist from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: “These result provide further evidence for the long and varied history of water in Gale Crater. Multiple generations of fluids, each with a unique chemistry, must have been present to account for what we find in the rock record today.”