Feeds

Mars rock found in Antarctica

1.3bn years old, and from the Red Planet

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Meteorite hunters, scouring the Antarctic continent for fragments of other worlds, have found a new piece of Mars in amongst the ice, snow and penguins. As is traditional in such cases, it has been given a name that reflects its alien origins and the vast distance it travelled through space: MIL 03346.

The 715.2-gram rock was bagged and tagged on December 15th 2003. It was found during a search for rare meteorites, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation with the specific hope of finding new Martian samples.

The rock has been confirmed as the seventh "nakhlite" meteorite, a group of Martian rocks named for Nakhla, Egypt, where the first known specimen fell in 1911. Researchers at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History said that the mineralogy, texture and the oxidized nature of the rock are "unmistakably Martian", according to a press statement on the NASA website.

Scientists think that nakhlites are fragments of ancient Martian lava flows that solidified around 1.3bn years ago, making them some of the older known pieces of the red planet to have made it to Earth. The theory is that nakhlites are ejecta from a huge impact on Mars 11 million years ago.

As it can be studied in detail, MIL 03346 will provide scientists with a point of reference for data sent back from the Mars rovers and Martian satellites. In line with the protocols of the U.S. Antarctic meteorite program, NASA invites scientists from around the world to request samples of the new specimen for their own detailed research. ®

Related stories

Red Planet serves up blueberries
Final report on Beagle 2
Scrap space robots, government urged

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.