Feeds

ROCK FROM MARS FOUND in Africa, reveals Red Planet's SECRETS

Meteorite comes from the early days on the Red Planet

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Boffins have dated a piece of Martian meteorite they reckon is the oldest bit of the planet ever collected.

Martian meteorite NWA7533

Radioactive analysis of the zircons in NWA7533, a meteorite found in Northwest Africa, have revealed that the rock is around 4.4 billion years old - so it was formed just 100 million years after Mars itself. In planetary terms, this is very young indeed.

Florida State University's Muni Humayun and his team investigated the rock using sophisticated mass spectrometers and found that it also contains trace metals like iridium that put its origin in the elusive cratered area of Mars' southern highlands.

"This cratered terrain has been long thought to hold the keys to Mars' birth and early childhood," Humayun explained.

The meteorite is not only a part of the Red Planet's ancient crust, but it's also the first sample to come from this area. Using the rock, the researchers have already been able to figure out the thickness of Mars' crust and confirm what spacecraft measurements have indicated, that the planet didn't experience a giant impact that melted the entire planet in its early history.

"We now know that Mars had a crust within the first 100 million years of the start of planet building, and that Mars' crust formed concurrently with the oldest crusts on Earth and the Moon," Humayan said.

Rather strangely, dating measurements on another meteorite fragment from the same impact, known as NWA7034 or Black Beauty, found that it was just 2.1 billion years old. That research used rubidium dating rather than uranium testing to age the rock and it's possible that the original whole meteorite was actually an amalgamation of several different kinds of stone, which would lead to different ages.

The full study, "Origin and age of the earliest Martian crust from meteorite NWA 7533", was published in Nature. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.