Morocco fireball yields rare Mars meteorites Nature

A meteorite that fell to Earth last July in Morocco has proven to be a rare chunk of Mars. Only a handful of Martian meteorites are known, and only five (counting the new find) come from meteorites whose fall was witnessed. That’s important because it tells scientists how long it has been lying on the ground, and therefore how much contamination it might have picked up. In this case, about a dozen pieces (such as the one shown, right), totalling several kilograms, were recovered from Morocco in late December.
“Because it’s only been on the ground for six months or less, it hasn’t been exposed to much contamination,” says Chris Herd, a planetary geologist specializing in meteorites at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. Herd chairs an international meteoritics committee that yesterday certified the rocks as coming from Mars and approved their name – Tissint – in honour of the village near which they were found.