Two minerals never before seen on Earth have been found inside a massive meteorite in Somalia. They may hold important clues about how asteroids form.
Two completely new minerals were found inside a single 2.5-ounce (70-gram) piece taken from the 16.5-ton (15 metric tons) El Ali meteorite, which was discovered in 2020. Scientists named the mineral elalite in honor meteor and elkinstontanite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University and principal investigator of future NASA Psychic’s missionwhich will send a probe to explore the mineral-rich Psyche asteroid for evidence of how our Solar systemplanets formed.
“Every time you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemical composition of the rock, is different from what was found before,” said Chris Heard, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. said in a statement (opens in a new tab). “That’s what makes it exciting: This particular meteorite has two formally described minerals that are new to science.”
On the topic: Meteorites that reach Earth fall from asteroids
The researchers kept it secret El Ali (opens in a new tab) as an Iron IAB complex meteorite, a type made of meteoric iron studded with tiny pieces of silicates. During the study of the meteorite section, the attention of scientists was attracted by the details of new minerals. By comparing the minerals to versions of them that had previously been synthesized in the laboratory, they were able to quickly identify them as newly reported in nature.
The researchers plan to investigate meteorites further to understand the conditions under which their parent asteroid formed. “That’s my expertise — how do you figure out the geologic processes and geologic history of an asteroid that this rock was once a part of,” Gerd said. “I never thought that I would be involved in the description of completely new minerals just by working on a meteorite.”
The team is also exploring materials science applications of minerals.
However, future scientific knowledge about the El Ali meteorite may be in jeopardy. The meteorite has now been transported to China in search of a potential buyer, which could limit researchers’ access to the space rock for study.
Originally published on LiveScience.
https://www.space.com/two-new-minerals-found-inside-meteorite Inside the meteorite were found 2 minerals that have never been found on Earth before