Scientists believe they have discovered Earth’s first meteorite from Mercury. The green rock was discovered in Morocco last year and according to meteorite scientist Anthony Irving, his groups year long study suggests that NWA 7325 came from Mercury. The groups findings were presented during the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.
NWA 7325 is a group of 35 meteorite samples discovered in 2012 in Morocco. The rocks with the help of carbon dating are estimated to be at least 4.56 billion years old.
During his talk Irving revealed:
“It might be a sample from Mercury, or it might be a sample from a body smaller than Mercury but [which] is like Mercury.”
The meteorites were being studied by a group of professors at the University of Washington.
Scientists were able to rule out more common meteorites from Mars and the space rock Vesta because they both carry chemically distinct characteristics not present in the new Mercury meteorite.
Irving and his team believe the meteorite shot towards Earth from a planet with flowing magma on its surface. Irving says the rock could have been formed as “scum” on the top of the planets magma.
According to the report NWA 7325 has a lower magnetic intensity. That magnetic intensity appears to match data sent back from NASA’s Messenger spacecraft currently in orbit around Mercury. Other data from NASA’s Messenger spacecraft has also provided more proof of the green rock’s original. For example, Mercury’s surface is believed to be very low in iron just like the newly discovered rock.
NASA is considering extending Messenger’s mission through 2015, a timeframe that could lend itself to further scientific discoveries that prove or negate Anthony Irving’s findings.
For now the green rock will be considered a meteorite from Mercury.
If nothing else the green rock is really pretty to look at thanks to its stark difference to Earth rocks.