Features Sunday, February 01, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | February 1, 2015 | 1:35 pm IST The bulk of rocks on the surface of Mars probably look a lot like what is called "Black Beauty", a meteorite found a few years ago in the Moroccan desert, says a study. The meteorite NWA 7034 has been shown to be a 4.4 billion-year-old chunk of the Martian crust, and according to the new analysis, rocks just like it may cover vast swathes of Mars. Spectroscopic measurements of the meteorite are a spot-on match with orbital measurements of the Martian dark plains, areas where the planet's coating of red dust is thin and the rocks beneath are exposed, the researchers said. The findings suggest that the meteorite is a representative of the "bulk background" of rocks on the Martian surface, said lead author Kevin Cannon from Brown University. Before Black Beauty, all the Martian rocks found on the Earth were classified as SNC meteorites (shergottites, nakhlites or chassignites). These are mainly igneous rocks made of cooled volcanic material. But Black Beauty is a breccia, a mashup of different rock types welded together in a basaltic matrix. It contains sedimentary components that match the chemical makeup of rocks analysed by the Mars rovers. Scientists concluded that it is a piece of Martian crust -- the first such sample to make it to the Earth. The study is forthcoming in the journal Icarus. IANS Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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