Two minerals never before seen on Earth have been discovered in a giant 16.5-ton meteorite, providing researchers with potential clues to how space rocks form.
The new minerals were found in a 2.5-ounce slice of the El Ali meteorite in Somalia, which was discovered in 2020 and is the ninth-largest meteorite ever discovered, University of Alberta said in a press release. Meteorites are meteorites that live through the Earth’s atmosphere and land on Earth. According to NASA.
Samples were taken from the meteorite and sent to the University of Alberta for classification, where researchers discovered the mineral. The researchers also said they may have identified a third, new mineral, although it is still under review. The findings were presented at the university’s Space Exploration Symposium on November 21-22.
“When you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, were different than what was found before,” Chris Hurd, curator of the University of Alberta’s Meteorite Collection and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a statement. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”
The university said Hurd knew there was something unique about the chip when he first noticed it, so he contacted colleague Andrew Lowcock, who had been involved in mineral characterization before. Metals were industrial It had been made before, so Lowcock confirmed the new minerals by comparing the compositions of natural and synthetic minerals.
One of the minerals has been named elaliite, a reference to the name of the meteorite, which comes from the area in which it was found in Somalia. The other is named elkinstantonite, in honor of Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president of the Planetary Initiative at Arizona State University and principal investigator for NASA’s upcoming Psyche missionwhich will attempt to send an orbiter to the mineral-rich asteroid in 2023.
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New minerals can have new uses
With the help of researchers at UCLA and Caltech, Hurd classified the meteorite as an “iron complex IAB” meteorite, one of 350 of this type, the university said.
The researchers will conduct further tests on the minerals, which they hope will provide insight into the conditions inside the meteorite when it formed, when they are known as meteorites. If more samples can be taken from the meteorite, the statement says, there may be other unique minerals to be discovered, which could lead to new uses on our planet.
“Whenever a new material is known, materials scientists are also interested because of the potential uses in a wide variety of things in society,” Hurd said.
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