Ancient Martian meteorite preserves chunks of planet’s early crust | Science News


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Ancient Martian meteorite preserves chunks of planet’s early crust

Rock could reveal what Mars was like 4.4 billion years ago

1:00pm, November 20, 2013

ANCIENT CRUST  The meteorite NWA 7533 is embedded with crystals that date back to 4.4 billion years ago, when the Martian crust first solidified.

Pieces of Mars’ original 4.4-billion-year-old crust have shown up in fragments of a smooth black rock recovered in the Sahara Desert, researchers report November 20 in Nature. The meteorite pieces are among the oldest planetary artifacts ever discovered and could provide insight into surface conditions on Mars during its infancy.

Along with the other planets in the solar system, Mars formed more than 4.4 billion years ago. But you’d never know that by studying meteorites that got blasted off the Red Planet before crash-landing on Earth. Most of the roughly 125 Martian meteorites on record formed less than a billion years ago, providing clues to Mars’ recent geological activity but not what it looked like in its youth. The only senior citizen in the Martian collection is Allan Hills 84001, the 4.1-billion-year-old meteorite best known for the discredited claim that it contains fossilized bacteria (

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