New rocks from Mars have been found in Africa.
Scientists are confirming a recent and rare invasion from Mars: meteorite chunks from the red planet that fell in Morocco last July.
This is only the fifth time scientists have chemically confirmed Martian meteorites that people witnessed falling. The small rock refugees were seen in a fireball in the sky six months ago, but they weren’t discovered on the ground in North Africa until the end of December.
Scientists and collectors of meteorites are ecstatic and already the rocks are fetching big bucks because they are among the rarest things on Earth.
A special committee of meteorite experts, which includes some NASA scientists, confirmed the test results Tuesday. They certified that 15 pounds of meteorite recently collected came from Mars. The biggest rock weighs over 2 pounds.
It has been postulated that at least one major impact has occurred on the planet in the distant past. One of the reasons these particular rocks are so special is that they have only been on this planet for a matter of months, most have not been located for several months or years. This means there has only been a short time for them to be contaminated by exposure to the Earth’s environment.
Most other samples had been on Earth for millions of years — or at the very least decades — which makes them tainted with Earth materials and life. These new rocks, while still likely contaminated because they have been on Earth for months, are still more pure and better to study.
The last time a Martian meteorite fell and was found fresh was in 1962. All the Martian rocks on Earth add up to less than 240 pounds.
None of the probes that have been sent to Mars have returned to earth with rock samples, and will not any time in the near future. So far these meteorites are the only way to gain hands on exposure to the surface of Mars. Also, the cost of buying them from collectors is much less than the cost of a space probe.
A list of all known Martian meteorites is here.
No word yet if the invaders will be establishing Martian Law.