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Martian Meteorite Linked to Rock at Meridiani

Target Name:  Martian Meteorite
Produced by:  NASA/JSC/JPL
Copyright: NASA Copyright Free Policy

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This meteorite, a basalt lava rock nearly indistinguishable from many Earth rocks, provided the first strong proof that meteorites could come from Mars. Originally weighing nearly 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds), it was collected in 1979 in the Elephant Moraine area of Antarctica. The side of the cube at the lower left in this image measures 1 centimeter (0.4 inches).

This picture shows a sawn face of this fine-grained gray rock. (The vertical stripes are saw marks.) The black patches in the rock are melted rock, or glass, formed when a large meteorite hit Mars near the rock. The meteorite impact probably threw this rock, dubbed "EETA79001," off Mars and toward Antarctica on Earth. The black glass contains traces of martian atmosphere gases. This meteorite is 180 million years old.

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has discovered that a rock dubbed "Bounce" at Meridiani Planum has a very similar mineral composition to this meteorite and likely shares common origins. Bounce itself is thought to have originated outside the area surrounding Opportunity's landing site; an impact or collision likely threw the rock away from its primary home.

Copyright © 1995-2013 by Calvin J. Hamilton. All rights reserved.