California meteorite a scientific gold mine

Sutter’s Mill rock preserves rare, fresh material from outer space

By Alexandra Witze, 14:06 PM December 20, 2012

A meteorite that fell where California’s gold rush began has triggered a similar gold rush for scientists: to study one of the freshest, most unusual space rocks around.

The Sutter’s Mill meteorite turns out to be a rare, carbon-rich type known as a carbonaceous chondrite. Its insides are a jumble of different primitive space materials mashed together in a single rock.

“It’s a real hodge-podge,” says Monica Grady, a meteorite expert at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England. “It tel...

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