These days, when objects fall from space, we’re apt to blame old science projects that littered our orbit with debris. But scientists say a meteorite that fell last July over Africa came not from broken-down Russian Mars probes, but from Mars itself.
The Associated Press reports that the meteorite fireball was seen in the sky six months ago, but the rocks from the red planet weren’t discovered in Morocco until December. It marks only the fifth time scientists have confirmed the falling of Martian meteorites to Earth. The last rocks were found in 1962.
As NASA and Russian spacecraft have both failed to return pieces of Mars to Earth, scientists say these falling rocks are their best chance to examine samples from the terrestrial planet. The rocks, however, were not easily acquired. Meteorite dealers* immediately scooped up the rocks and hawked them to scientists for prices between $11,000 and $22,500 an ounce. That’s about 10 times the cost of gold.
Astronomers believe the rocks are a result of a crash millions of years ago between Mars and another object. The rocks landed on Earth after a lengthy journey through space.
The International Society for Meteoritics and Planetary Science announced the meteorite Tuesday, and named it Tissint, after the village where the rocks were found.
Below, watch footage of July’s fireball, as captured by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and shared on YouTube by McGrath Images:
*Interested in being a meteorite dealer? This guy explains how.