Scientists believe a 2011 meteorite could be 4.4 billion year old piece of Martian crust

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Feb 2, 2015, 7:03 PM EST (Updated)

Deep below the rusty red crust, Mars holds a host of secrets that we’ve been trying to get at for the better part of a decade with satellites and rovers. But at least some of those answers might’ve been sitting here on Earth the past three years. Researchers now believe the NWA 7034 meteorite, a 320-gram piece of Martian basaltic breccia that crashed into a Moroccan desert in 2011, might be a 4.4-billion-year-old piece of the Martian crust. As Universe Today notes, the piece is nicknamed “Black Beauty” and is one of the oldest meteorites ever found.

Scientists believe the meteorite comes from one of Mars’ mysterious darker planes and could provide some new intel about our celestial neighbor and future base of space operations. A team used hyperspectral imaging to study the entire fragment, and those findings matched data recorded by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for Mars’ dark plains area.

The piece of crust essentially shows how Mars’ surface has been damaged and fused into a gorgeous mosaic, and it reveals even more insight into the mysterious planet. Kevin Cannon, a lead author of a new paper on the meteorite published in Icarus, noted the find shows that “if you went to Mars and picked up a chunk of crust, you’d expect it to be heavily beat up, battered, broken apart and put back together.”

The rock looks extremely cool, and not at all what you’d expect for a piece of Martian crust. Check it out below:

(Via Universe Today)