Two minerals never before seen on Earth have been discovered in a giant meteorite weighing 16.5 tons, offering researchers potential clues about how space rocks form.
The new minerals were found in a 2.5-ounce portion of the El Ali meteorite in Somalia, which was discovered in 2020 and is the ninth largest meteorite ever discovered. said the University of Alberta in a press release. Meteors are meteors that survive through Earth’s atmosphere and land on the ground. According to NASA.
Samples of the meteorite were taken and sent to the University of Alberta for classification, where researchers discovered the minerals. The researchers also said they may have identified a third new mineral, although it was still being reviewed. The findings were presented at the university’s Space Exploration Symposium on November 2. 21 and 22.
“Any time you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what had been found before,” Chris Herd, curator of the University of Alberta Meteorite Collection and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, he said in a statement. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite there are two officially described minerals that are new to science.”
Herd knew there was something unique about the cut when he first looked at it, so he called in his colleague Andrew Locock, who had been involved in mineral descriptions before, the university said. The minerals had been synthetically done before, so Locock confirmed the new minerals by comparing the compositions of natural and man-made minerals.
One of the minerals was given the name elaliite, in reference to the name of the meteorite, which comes from the region in which it was found in Somalia. The other was named elkinstonite, after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University and principal investigator for NASA’s next Psyche missionthat it will try to send an orbiter to the metal-rich asteroid in 2023.
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New minerals could have new uses
With the help of researchers from UCLA and the California Institute of Technology, Herd classified the meteorite as an “IAB iron complex” meteorite, one of 350 such meteorites, the university said.
The researchers will carry out further tests on the minerals, in the hope that they will provide insight into the conditions inside the meteorite when it formed, when they are known as meteoroids. If more samples of the meteorite could be taken, other unique minerals may be discovered, potentially leading to new uses on our planet, the statement said.
“Any time a new material is known, materials scientists are also interested because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society,” Herd said.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.
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