Green meteorite found in Morocco may be from Mercury
Washington: A meteorite scientist has claimed that the green rock found in Morocco last year may be the first known visitor from the solar system's innermost planet, Mercury.
Anthony Irving, an Earth and Space Sciences professor at the University of Washington, suggested that a space rock called NWA 7325 came from Mercury, and not an asteroid or Mars, the Fox News reported.
NWA 7325 is actually a group of 35 are ancient meteorite samples discovered in 2012 in Morocco and Irving and his team have dated the rocks to an age of about 4.56 billion years.
While unveiling the new findings this month at the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, Irving have said that the rock might be a sample from Mercury, or it might be a sample from a body smaller than Mercury but which is like Mercury.
A large impact could have shot NWA 7325 out from Mercury to Earth, he added.
Irving, who has been studying meteorites for years, told SPACE.com that the NWA 7325 meteorite is unlike anything found on Earth before.
Meteorites from Mars are imbued with some Martian atmosphere, making them somewhat simple to tell apart from other rocks. Space rocks from Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system, are also chemically distinct, but NWA 7325 does not resemble any space rock documented by scientists today.
Irving thinks that the meteorite was created and eventually ejected from a planet or other body that had flowing magma on its surface at some point in its history. Evidence suggests that the rock could have been formed as "scum" on the top of the magma, Irving said.
Irving said NWA 7325 has a lower magnetic intensity - the magnetism passed from a cosmic body's magnetic field into a rock - than any other rock yet found.
Data sent back from NASA's Messenger spacecraft currently in orbit around Mercury shows that the planet's low magnetism closely resembles that found in NWA 7325, Irving noted.
Messenger's observations also provided Irving with further evidence that could support his hypothesis. Scientists familiar with Mercury's geological and chemical composition think that the planet's surface is very low in iron. The meteorite is also low in iron, suggesting that wherever the rock came from, its parent body resembles Mercury.