It is not often that someone finds a meteorite from the planet Mars. It is even rarer for someone to see a Mars meteorite falling from the sky.
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The Martian meteorite ‘‘Tissint’’ at the Institute of Meteoritics, University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. AFP/CARL B. AGEE
Scientists: Meteorite from Mars landed in Morocco
WASHINGTON: Rare and expensive fragments of a Mars meteorite fell from the sky in July over Morocco, a team of international scientists confirmed on Wednesday.
A fireball in the sky was observed in a remote region of southern Morocco by nomads who tracked down fragments of the 7kg meteorite, marking only the fifth time in history that a Mars rock has been seen falling to Earth.
A team of eight experts with the Meteoritical Society analysed the pieces and determined that they are authentic chunks of the red planet, said Carl Agee, part of the team and curator at the University of New Mexico.
‘‘The discovery is tremendously important because of the quality of the sample,’’ Mr Agee said.
The Moroccans who found the fragments quickly sold them to dealers, and museums scrambled to purchase them at a range of US$500 to $1,000 per gramme, said Mr Agee, whose museum now possesses a 108 gramme piece.
The price for meteorites ranges from 10 to 20 times the price of gold.
‘‘Some of these meteorites have atmospheric gas trapped inside glassy material. When they are heated and released in the laboratory and measured it’s identical to the Mars atmosphere that all the Mars probes have measured,’’ said Mr Agee.
‘‘All planets, like Venus, Mars and Earth, they have very different atmospheres,’’ he added. ‘‘It’s like a fingerprint.’’
The meteorite was named Tissint, and its discovery documented in the Meteoritical Society’s Jan 17 bulletin.
‘‘At about 2am local time on July 18, 2011, a fireball was observed by several people in the region of the Oued Draa valley, east of Tata, Morocco,’’ it said.
‘‘One eyewitness, Mr Aznid Lhou, reported that it was at first yellow in colour, and then turned green illuminating all the area before it appeared to split into two parts.’’
By October, ‘‘nomads began to find fresh, fusion-crusted stones in a remote area’’ about 50km east-southeast of Tata.
Mr Agee said such Mars meteorite events only happen about once every 50 years, with the last such event in 1962 in Nigeria. Of about 100 Mars meteorites currently in Earth collections, only five have been seen to fall. AFP
meteorite – a piece of rock from outer space that hits the earth's surface อุกกาบาต, ดาวตก, สะเก็ดดาว
rare – not often seen or found หาได้ยาก
fragment – a small piece of a large object that has broken, often into a lot of pieces ส่วนที่แตกออกมา
observe – to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกต
remote – far away from other cities, towns, or people ที่ห่างไกล
nomad – a member of a community that moves with its animals from place to place ชนเผ่าเร่ร่อน, คนร่อนเร่
track down – to try to follow and find someone or something ตามรอย
expert – someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
Meteoritical Society – an international organisation dedicated to research and education on meteorites and other materials from outer space
analyse – to examine the nature or structure of something, especially by separating it into its parts, in order to understand or explain it วิเคราะห์, ศึกษา, ตรวจสอบ
determine – to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล
authentic – real, not false or copied ของแท้
chunk – a thick solid piece that has been cut or broken off something ก้อนหนา
planet – a large round object in space that moves around a star (such as the sun) and receives light from it ดาวเคราะห์
curator – a person in charge of a museum, library, etc. ภัณฑารักษ์
tremendously – extremely, especially in a good way
quality – the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is คุณภาพ
sample – a small amount of a substance that is used for scientific or medical tests ตัวอย่างทดลอง
dealer – a person or company that buys and sells a particular product ผู้จำหน่าย
scramble – to do something in a hurry รีบเร่ง
possess – to have or own something ครอบครอง, ถือครอง
range – to have an upper and a lower limit in amount, number, etc ผันแปรภายในขอบเขตหนึ่ง
atmosphere (adjective form: atmospheric) – the mixture of gases that surrounds the earth บรรยากาศรอบโลก
trapped – to be unable to leave or get out of a place ถูกกับดัก
release – to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
identical – exactly the same, or very similar เหมือนกัน, แบบเดียวกัน
probe – a spacecraft without people on board which obtains information and sends it back to earth
fingerprint – a mark that you leave on something when you touch it, showing the pattern of lines on the skin of your fingers รอยนิ้วมือ
document – to record the details of something บันทึกข้อมูล
bulletin – a printed report that gives news about an organisation or a group สิ่งตีพิมพ์ที่ออกมาเป็นระยะ
eyewitness – someone who sees something happen พยานในเหตุการณ์
illuminate – to light up; to cause to be bright ส่องสว่าง, ฉายแสง
split – to divide; break apart ทำให้แตกแยก
fusion – the process or result of joining two or more things together to form one การหลอมละลาย, การรวมร่าง
crusted – having a hard layer or covering of something ที่มีเปลือกแข็ง