A meteorite that landed in Mexico in 1969 has led scientists to the discovery of an ancient mineral called panguite. The mineral which is older than earth was discovered on the Allende meteorite.
Believed to be one of the oldest minerals in the solar system panguite is said to be 4.5 billion years ago and belongs to a class of refractory minerals that scientists believe formed under extreme temperatures only present in the early days of the solar system.
The discovery of the titanium dioxide mineral was approved by the International Mineralogical Association.
Study researcher Chi Ma, a senior scientist at Caltech, told LiveScience:
“Until now, panguite had neither been seen in nature nor created in a lab. “It’s brand-new to science.””
To find the new mineral scientists used a scanning-electron microscope to view the panguite within a so-called ultra-refractory inclusion embedded within the meteorite. An inclusion is simply a mineral that becomes trapped inside a meteorite as it forms.
By revealing the element’s chemical composition and crystal structure scientists may one day be able to use the mineral for construction and other purposes.
The Allende meteorite likely came to Earth from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
By studying panguite and other elements discovered on space rocks, astronomers are better able to understand our solar system . Panguite is the ninth new mineral discovered by Chi Ma and his team of researchers.
You can learn more about the new mineral in the July issue of the journal American Mineralogist.