Astronomy

Did Unusual Rocks Found in Morocco Originate from Mercury



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Scientists believe they may have found the first meteorite on Earth that originated from the planet Mercury. The ancient rocks do not resemble any other kind of space rock that had been previously discovered or examined.

The green space rocks, which had been found in Morocco during 2012, have been dubbed NWA 7325. According to the International Society for Meteoritics and Planetary Science, the fall of the rock had not been observed, but the meteorite was reportedly found in southern Morocco during the first half of 2012.

The group described the rock as: "A group of 35 very fresh, dark greenish stones (total 345 g), several of which have partial remnant chartreuse-colored fusion crust. This material is notable for the characteristic "frosty" luster of the plagioclase and bright green color of the clinopyroxene."

Scientists are theorizing about the rocks and reportedly have a strong belief it is possible NWA 7325 came from Mercury, but do concede it could have arrived from a "Mercury-like" celestial body. The rock's origin being from Mars and the space rock Vesta have been ruled out.

Space.com (courtesy of Huffington Post), reported scientists have dated the space rocks as an estimated 4.56 billion years old. And unlike anything ever seen before.

"It might be a sample from Mercury, or it might be a sample from a body smaller than Mercury but [which] is like Mercury," meteorite scientist Anthony Irving said during a talk at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas where the findings were shared. He indicated a large impact may have "shot" NWA 7325 from Mercury to Earth.

The Space.com piece also describes the meteorite's lower magnetic density and data sent by NASA's Messenger spacecraft shows Mercury also has low magnetism and shares some of the same attributes found in NWA 7325.

Both Mercury and the meteorite also appear to have a low presence of iron.

Mercury, with its blazing daytime temperatures, is the innermost planet in the solar system.  Information from the planet has not been as accessible as is has from some other planets, such as Mars. However, as technology progresses, the astronomy community is able to gain more information through newer and modern tools.

It is hoped the Messenger mission can continue through 2015 so experts can gain additional information about the origin of NWA 7325. Messenger, the first mission to ever orbit Mercury, has been studying the planet since 2011, reported iO9.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.lpi.usra.edu/meteor/metbull.php?code=55627
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/31/mercury-meteorite-green-rock-morocco_n_2979678.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://io9.com/5965251/omg-mercury-has-water-ice-and-organics-but-what-does-that-really-mean