News Stories

What Rocks Reveal (If They Come From Mars, Anyway)

The space rock called the Tissint meteorite, that landed in the Moroccan desert last year, (with a fireball and double sonic boom), was knocked off Mars (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) in a cosmic collision around 700,000 years ago. This means that the rock was flung into space and began its journey to Earth when the shared ancestors of modern humans and Neanderthals were still living in Africa. What's important about this particular meteorite is that it has regions of black glass inside it that could contain gas and traces of Martian soil, giving astronomers an idea about what conditions on the red planet were like when modern man was just beginning to disperse throughout Earth.

In the October 11th edition of the Guardian, Ian Sample quotes astronomer Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane as saying, "Those bubbles are interesting because they trapped Martian conditions at the moment the meteorite formed, and it hasn't had any exchange with other materials."

Meanwhile, the first Martian rock NASA's Curiosity rover has reached out to touch resembles rocks found in the interior of today's Earth that are thrown up during volcanic explosions. Astronomers have christened the rock "Jake Matijevic."

The rover team used two instruments on Curiosity to study the chemical makeup of the football-size rock. Science Daily quotes astronomer Ralf Gellert as saying, "Jake is kind of an odd Martian rock. It's high in elements consistent with the mineral feldspar, and low in magnesium and iron."

The site quotes astronomer Edward Stolper as saying, "This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth. With only one Martian rock of this type, it is difficult to know whether the same processes were involved, but it is a reasonable place to start thinking about its origin."

These results provide an example of why identifying rocks' composition is such a major emphasis of the (Curiosity) mission. Rock compositions tell stories about unseen environments and planetary processes.

Take a deep breath of EARTH air--don't you wish there wasn't so much carbon dioxide in it? It's no use hiding our heads in the sand and denying that global warming exists--In 1998 MOTKE burst into Whitley Strieber's hotel room and warned him about it and Whitley did something about it--something that became a major motion picture that alerted millions of people!



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