February 6, 2023

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A huge meteorite hid two minerals never seen before on Earth

A giant meteorite discovered in Somalia turned out to be full of surprises. The Al-Ali meteorite was named for its landing site near the city of Al-Ali. It weighs 16.5 tons (15 tons) and is one of the largest meteorites ever found. Scientists investigating its composition have discovered that it hides two new minerals never before seen on Earth.

A research team at the University of Alberta in Canada discovered the mineral while examining a tiny 2.5-ounce (70-gram) slice of space rock. The new minerals are called elaliite (for the nearby meteorite town) and elkinstantonite in honor of Lindy Elkins Tantonthe principal investigator for the upcoming NASA Psychic asteroid mission.

“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rocks, were different from what was found before,” geologist Chris Hurd saidTrustee of the University of Alberta Al Nayzak GroupIn a statement released on Monday. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”

Herd brought in mineralogist Andew Locock to help analyze the meteorite, which has now been classified as a type of iron meteorite. Lowcock quickly identified the new minerals by comparing them with similar minerals that the researchers had made synthetically in laboratory settings.

“It was unusual,” Hurd said. “It takes a lot more work most of the time than that to say there’s a new metal.”

Hurd presented the team’s results at the Space Exploration Symposium at the university earlier this month. The next step in the research will be to find out what the minerals can tell scientists about the meteorite’s composition.

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While the El Ali meteorite has only recently come to the attention of the scientific community, it has reportedly been known for it The local people in Somalia who trace their ancestry At least five generations. Only a small part of the meteorite has been excavated for study. According to Hurd, the research team heard that the key meteorite had been transported to China, where it might be for sale.

Scientists still hope to get more of the meteorite. They’ve already identified a third possible new mineral, and there may be more surprises hiding in the fallen space rocks. The new minerals may be of interest beyond geology and astronomy. “Whenever a new material is known,” Hurd said, “materials scientists are also interested because of the potential uses in a wide variety of things in society.”