Liquids/Liquid objects/Meteorites

Liquid "water [has been detected] in fragments of the Sutter's Mill meteorite."[1]

Fragments of a crushed 4 gram meteorite (SM2) belonging to the Sutter's Mill meteorite. Credit: Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute) and Eric James (NASA Ames).

A "tiny calcite crystal [harbored] an even smaller (think nanoscale) liquid containing at least 15% carbon dioxide. This finding confirmed that both liquid water and also carbon dioxide can exist in ancient space rocks."[1]

"There are many theories about where and how Earth got its water. One of the leading theories suggests that water fell to Earth, trapped inside objects like meteorites (specifically, carbonaceous chondrites). According to this theory, water molecules incorporated in the crystal structures of minerals in these space rocks could be a source of Earth's water."[2]

"Water is preserved in carbonaceous chondrites as hydroxyl and/or H2O molecules in hydrous minerals, but has not been found as liquid. To uncover such liquid, we performed synchrotron-based x-ray computed nanotomography and transmission electron microscopy with a cryo-stage of the aqueously altered carbonaceous chondrite Sutter’s Mill. We discovered CO2-bearing fluid (CO2/H2O > ~0.15) in a nanosized inclusion incorporated into a calcite crystal, appearing as CO2 ice and/or CO2 hydrate at 173 K. This is direct evidence of dynamic evolution of the solar system, requiring the Sutter’s Mill’s parent body to have formed outside the CO2 snow line and later transportation to the inner solar system because of Jupiter’s orbital instability."[3]

Tagish Lake meteorite edit

As with many carbonaceous chondrites,[4] and petrologic Type 2 specimens in particular, Tagish Lake contains water. The meteorite contains water-bearing serpentinite and saponite phyllosilicates;[5][6] gypsum has been found, but may be weathering of meteoritic sulfides. The water is not Earthly contamination but isotopically different from terrestrial water.[7][8]

Nakhlites edit

Nakhla meteorite's two sides and its inner surfaces are shown after breaking it. Credit: NASA.

Nakhlites are named after the first of them, the Nakhla meteorite, which fell in El-Nakhla, Alexandria, Egypt in 1911 and had an estimated weight of 10 kg.

Nakhlites are igneous rocks that are rich in augite and were formed from basaltic magma from at least four eruptions, spanning around 90 million years, from 1416 ± 7 to 1322 ± 10 million years ago.[9] They contain augite and olivine crystals. Their crystallization ages, compared to a crater count chronology of different regions on Mars, suggest the nakhlites formed on the large volcanic construct of either Tharsis, Elysium, or Syrtis Major Planum.[10]

It has been shown that the nakhlites were suffused with liquid water around 620 million years ago, ejected from Mars around 10.75 million years ago by an asteroid impact and fell to Earth within the last 10,000 years.[10]

Monahans and Zag meteorites edit

Zag/Monahans meteorites and their halite crystals. Credit: Queenie H. S. Chan, Michael E. Zolensky, Yoko Kebukawa, Marc Fries, Motoo Ito, Andrew Steele, Zia Rahman, Aiko Nakato, A. L. David Kilcoyne, Hiroki Suga, Yoshio Takahashi, Yasuo Takeichi, and Kazuhiko Mase. {{fairuse}}

"Direct samples of early solar system fluids are present in these two ordinary chondrite regolith breccias [Monahans (1998) (H5), hereafter referred to as “Monahans,” and Zag (H3-6)], which were found to contain brine-bearing halite (NaCl) and sylvite (KCl) crystals (hereafter collectively called “halite”) that have been added to the regolith of an S-type asteroid following the latter’s thermal metamorphism [...] (1, 4). Halite’s typical association with water as an evaporite mineral underscores its importance from the origin and detection of life perspective, in terms of the development of life via offering crystalline surfaces as adsorption sites for catalytic synthesis, concentration, polymerization, and organization of prebiotic molecules (5). Furthermore, inclusions in halite crystals raise the possibility of trapping life and/or biomolecules from the evaporating aqueous phase (6). The brine solutions in Zag and Monahans halite are samples of exogenous liquid water that record primitive aqueous processes on early planetesimals, and the halite hosts of the brines retain clues to the location and timing of the aqueous alteration event and capture an inventory of associated organic species."[11]

The image on the right contains "(A) Diagram showing the lithologies of the Zag and Monahans meteorites, their dark (carbonaceous) clasts, the halite crystals, and the fluid and solid inclusions within the halite crystals. (B) Halite crystals hosted in the matrix regions of the Zag meteorite. The arrow marks one of the several halite crystals shown in this photo. (C) A microphotograph showing a halite crystal subsampled from the Zag meteorite. (D) Halite crystals subsampled from the Zag meteorite contained in a pre-sterilized glass ampoule before hot-water extraction."[11]

Northwest Africa 7034 edit

The Martian meteorite NWA 7034 weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). Credit: NASA.

Northwest Africa 7034 is a Martian meteorite believed to be the second oldest yet discovered.[12] It is estimated to be two billion years old and contains the most water of any Martian meteorite found on Earth.[13] Although it is from Mars it does not fit into any of the three SNC meteorite categories, and forms a new Martian meteorite group named "Martian (basaltic breccia)".[14] Nicknamed "Black Beauty", it was purchased in Morocco and a slice of it was donated to the University of New Mexico by its American owner.[14]

The meteorite was found in Rabt Sbayta, Ghredad Sabti region, Western Sahara,[15] in the Sahara Desert in 2011,[16] and was purchased in Morocco by a meteorite dealer who sold it to a collector in the United States,[14] as Morocco does not have meteorite export control laws. Like all meteorites that are found in large numbers or sold at markets the name stands for the geographic region (Northwest Africa) and a number, which is given out consecutively.[17] NWA 7034 carries the nickname "Black Beauty".[12]

NWA 7034 is a volcanic breccia that has a porphyritic appearance, consisting of plagioclase (andesine) and pyroxene (pigeonite and augite) phenocrysts that are up to 5 mm in diameter set in a fine grained groundmass, with accessory minerals including chlorapatite, chromite, goethite, ilmenite, magnetite, maghemite, alkali feldspar and pyrite.[13] There are even some clasts present that are made of quenched magma. The groundmass is made from fine grained plagioclase, pyroxene, different oxide minerals, and traces of iron sulfides.[14] The whole rock chemistry revealed that NWA 7034 has the highest water content ever measured in a Martian meteorite.[16] The water might be derived from oceans that used to exist on Mars, but were still present when the volcanic rock, that would eventually become the meteorite, was erupted.[18]

The meteorite contains components as old as 4.42 ± 0.07 Ga (billion years),[19] and was heated during the Amazonian period of Mars.[20] It is the second oldest Martian meteorite known.[13][16][21] However, a team of Japanese researchers who studied the meteorite concluded that water on Mars originated around 4.4 billion years ago.[22]

NWA 7034 is the first Martian meteorite that is a breccia and does not fall in any of the known Martian meteorite groups (shergottite, nakhlite, chassignite and ALH 84001).[23] NWA 7034 was classified as an ungrouped planetary achondrite until the Meteoritical Society approved the new designation "Martian (basaltic breccia)" in January 2013. The iron/manganese ratio is consistent with that of other Martian meteorites, but the oxygen isotopes do not correlate with a Martian origin. The change in oxygen isotope ratios could be explained by removal or addition of heavier or lighter isotopes, or by mixing with a mass with a different isotopic ratio. This could happen during metasomatism (aqueous alteration) of the Martian crust. Another explanation would be an isotopic contamination of the Martian crust during impact brecciation.[23]

If it were a terrestrial rock it would be classified as a regolith breccia.[24]

Tissint meteorite edit

This martian meteorite fell to earth on July 18, 2011 in a valley east of Tata, Morocco. Credit: Jon Taylor.{{free media}}

This historic event marks the first witnessed fall of a martian meteorite since Zagami in 1962! Tissint is a shergottite with glossy black fusion crust and a light gray matrix. Despite it's small size, this specimen displays some nice fusion crust.

Tissint is the fifth Martian meteorite that people have witnessed falling to Earth, and the first since 1962.[25]

On July 18, 2011, around 2 AM local time, a bright fireball was observed by several people in the Oued Drâa valley, east of Tata, Morocco.[26]

One 47 g (1.7 oz) crusted stone was documented as found at 29°28.917’ N, 7°36.674’ W.[27] The exposed interior of the stones appears pale green-grey in color, with mm-sized, pale yellow olivine phenocrysts with sparse vesicular pockets and thin veins of black glass.[27]

Tissint was named after the town of Tissint, 48 kilometres (30 mi) away from the fall site.[28]

The meteorite was ejected from the surface of Mars between 700,000 and 1,1 million years ago.[29] Tissint appears to be derived from a deep mantle source region that was unlike any of the other known Martian shergottite meteorites.[29]

The material is highly shocked and indicates it was ejected during the largest impact excavation in record.[30] Given the widely dispersed shock melting observed in Tissint, alteration of other soft minerals (carbonates, halides, sulfates and even organics), especially along grain boundaries, might have occurred which may in part explain the lack of such minerals in Tissint,[30] but it is unknown if it is of biotic origin.[31]

The meteorite fragments were recovered within days after the fall, so it is considered an "uncontaminated" meteorite.[32] The meteorite displays evidence of water weathering, and there are signs of elements being carried into cracks in the rocks by water or fluid, which is something never seen before in a Martian meteorite.[33] Specifically, scientists found carbon and nitrogen-containing compounds associated with hydrothermal mineral inclusions.[34][31] One team reported measuring an elevated carbon-13 (13C) ratio,[35] while another team reported a low 13C ratio as compared to the content in Mars' atmosphere and crust, and suggested that it may be of biological origin, but the researchers also noted that there are several geological processes that could explain that without invoking complex life-processes;[31] for example, it could be of meteoritic origin and would have been mixed with Martian soil when meteorites and comets impact the surface of Mars,[31] or of volcanic origin.[36]

The Martian weathering features in Tissint are compatible with the results of spacecraft observations of Mars, and Tissint has a cosmic ray dating exposure age of 0.7 ± 0.3 Ma—consistent with the reading of many other shergottites, notably EETA79001, suggesting that they were ejected from Mars during the same event.[35][37]

Murchison meteorite edit

This Murchison meteorite specimen is at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Credit: Basilicofresco.

The oldest material found on Earth to date are the silicon carbide particles from the Murchison meteorite, which have been determined to be 7 billion years old, about 2.5 billion years older than the 4.54-billion-year age of the Earth and the Solar System, since they originated at a time before the Sun was formed, but "dust lifetime estimates mainly rely on sophisticated theoretical models. These models, however, focus on the more common small dust grains and are based on assumptions with large uncertainties."[38]

Like most CM chondrites, Murchison is petrologic type 2, which means that it experienced extensive alteration by water-rich fluids on its parent body[39] before falling to Earth.

Murchison meteorite silicon carbide particles had been determined to be 7 billion years old, 2.5 billion years older than the 4.54 billion years age of the Earth and the solar system, and the oldest material found on Earth to date.[40][38]

Alais meteorite edit

A fragment of the meteorite is on display in 2018. Credit: Eunostos.

See also edit

References edit

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External links edit

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