Inside a huge meteorite in Somalia, two minerals have been discovered that have never been found on Earth before. They may contain important clues about how asteroids formed.
Two new minerals were found inside a single 2.5 ounce (70 gram) shard taken from a 16.5-tonne (15-tonne) Altissimo meteorite that shattered into pieces. Earth In 2020, scientists named the mineral elaliite meteor And Elkinstantonite Lindy Elkins Tanton (Opens in a new tab)Managing Director of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University and Principal Investigator of NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission, which will send a probe to explore the mineral-rich Psyche. asteroid For guidance on how we work solar systemPlanets have formed.
“When you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemical composition of the rock, were different from what was found before,” he said. Chris Hurd (Opens in a new tab)Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. declaration (Opens in a new tab)🇧🇷 “Here’s what makes it exciting: in this particular meteorite, you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”
The researchers classified Al Ali as an IAB-iron complex meteorite, a type consisting of meteoric iron with small pieces of silicate. When studying a piece of a meteorite, the attention of scientists was attracted by new mineral details. By comparing the minerals with their counterparts previously synthesized in the laboratory, they were able to quickly identify them as newly recorded in nature.
The researchers plan to continue studying meteorites to understand the conditions under which the original asteroid formed. “That’s my specialty, how to unravel the geologic processes and geologic history of the asteroid this rock was a part of,” Hurd said. “I never thought that I would be involved in the description of completely new minerals working in a meteorite.”
The team is also considering the use of metals in materials science.
However, future scientific findings from the Al-Ali meteorite may be in jeopardy. Currently, the meteorite has been transported to China in search of a potential buyer, which may limit the access of researchers to the space rock for research.