Washington: The 4.4 billion year-old Martian meteorite, which was found a few years ago in the Moroccan desert, is a piece of planet's crust, it has been revealed.
In a new paper, scientists reported that spectroscopic measurements of the meteorite are a spot-on match with orbital measurements of the Martian dark plains, areas where the planet's coating of red dust is thin and the rocks beneath are exposed.
Kevin Cannon, a Brown University graduate student said that the findings suggested that the meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, was representative of the "bulk background" of rocks on the Martian surface.
Before Black Beauty, all the Martian rocks found on Earth were classified as SNC meteorites (shergottites, nakhlites, or chassignites). They're mainly igneous rocks made of cooled volcanic material.
But Black Beauty was a breccia, a mashup of different rock types welded together in a basaltic matrix. It contains sedimentary components that match the chemical makeup of rocks analyzed by the Mars rovers. Scientists concluded that it was a piece of Martian crust, the first such sample to make it to Earth.
The researchers said that the spectral match helps put a face on the dark plains, suggesting that the regions are dominated by brecciated rocks similar to Black Beauty. Because the dark plains are dust-poor regions, they're thought to be representative of what hides beneath the red dust on much of the rest of the planet.
It was further added that the surface of Mars would be rich in Black Beauty-like breccias makes a lot of sense, given what we know about Mars.
Jack Mustard from Brown said that the bulk of rocks on the surface of Mars probably look a lot like Black Beauty: "dark, messy and beautiful."