Feeds

Antarctic meteorite yields exotic new mineral

NASA scientists spy specks of 'Wassonite'

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

NASA has announced the discovery of a new mineral inside a "historically significant"* meteorite recovered from Antarctica in December 1969.

The exotic blend of sulphur and titanium was spotted in the 4.5bn-year-old Yamato 691 enstatite chondrite, which may have once formed part of an asteroid orbiting between Jupiter and Mars.

It has a "unique crystal structure that has not been previously observed in nature", according to NASA space scientist Keiko Nakamura-Messenger, who led the research.

The mineral has been dubbed "Wassonite", in honour of John T Wasson, a professor at the University of California, "known for his achievements across a broad swath of meteorite and impact research".

A bright field scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) micrograph showing a Wassonite grain. Pic: NASAAnyone hoping to be the first to get a Wassonite kitchen counter top will be disappointed to learn that one sample is "less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair or 50x450 nanometers", and therefore unlikely to impress the neighbours (see pic).

Indeed, without NASA's transmission electron microscope - which is "capable of isolating the Wassonite grains and determining their chemical composition and atomic structure" - it would never have been spotted at all, the agency says.

Despite being nothing more than a few specks, Wassonite has been recognised by the International Mineralogical Association and added to its list of 4,500 officially approved minerals.

The meteorite may yet yield further novel material. The Wassonite is apparently surrounded by "additional unknown minerals that are being investigated".

Lindsay Keller, space scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center and "co-discoverer and principal investigator" of the transmission electron microscope used to analyse the Wassonite crystals, said: "Meteorites, and the minerals within them, are windows to the formation of our solar system. Through these kinds of studies we can learn about the conditions that existed and the processes that were occurring then."

NASA has more pics of Wassonite here (pdf). ®

Bootnote

* NASA explains: "In 1969, members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition discovered nine meteorites on the blue ice field of the Yamato Mountains in Antarctica. This was the first significant recovery of Antarctic meteorites and represented samples of several different types. As a result, the United States and Japan conducted systematic follow-up searches for meteorites in Antarctica that recovered more than 40,000 specimens, including extremely rare Martian and lunar meteorites."

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.