Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Scientists have discovered two minerals never before seen on Earth inside a huge meteorite in Somalia. They could hold important clues about how asteroids form.
The two new minerals were found inside a 70-gram piece taken from the “El Ali” meteorite, which collided with Earth in 2020, and weighed 16.5 tons, according to the Live Science website.
Scientists have named the mineral elaliite after the name of the El Ali meteorite, and elkinstantonite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, managing director of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative and principal investigator of the upcoming NASA mission, which will send a probe to the mineral-rich asteroid Psyche for evidence of planetary activity. How did the planets of our solar system form?
“When you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rocks, were different than what was found before,” Chris Hurd, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, said in a statement. This particular meteorite you have two minerals formally described, which are new to science.”
The scientists classified “Al-Ali” as a complex meteorite from IAB, a type made of iron meteorite dotted with small pieces of silicate.
During the investigation of the meteorite fragment, details of new minerals caught scientists’ attention. By comparing the minerals with copies of them previously made in the lab, they were able to quickly identify them as newly found in nature.
The team plans to further investigate the meteorites in order to understand the conditions under which the original asteroid was formed.
The Al-Ali meteorite had been transported to China in search of a potential buyer, which may limit scientists’ access to the space rock for investigation.
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