Four-billion-year-old surprise from space

Posted on April 12, 2012


A group of NASA scientists have discovered a new mineral of space origin in one of the most historically significant celestial objects – a meteorite found in Antarctica in 1969.

Schema of rock

­The new mineral was discovered by NASA scientists inside the meteorite known as Yamato 691, according to NASA’s official report. The meteorite was among the first nine meteorites discovered by the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition in the ice-fields of Antarctica in 1969.  The analysis has shown that it is over 4.5 billion years old and originated from an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.

Latest discoveries by NASA scientists and their co-researchers from Japan and South Korea revealed small inclusions of an unknown mineral in the meteorite specimen. It was discovered surrounded by other materials of unidentified nature that are now being investigated as well.

The newly discovered mineral is made up of sulfur and titanium molecules that form an intricate crystal lattice. The characteristics of the lattice have yet to be defined. The mineral makes up only a tiny fraction of the sample (50 x 450 nanometers, or less than one-hundredth width of human hair). Yet it is an important integral part of its chemical composition.


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