Rare Mars meteorite discovered in Middle East
The Oman rock is chemically similar to this Mars meteorite from Antarctica, which some scientists think contains fossils of microbial life.
(CNN) -- A meteorite hunter combing the deserts of Oman found
a stone thought to have originated on Mars. Of the 20,000
known meteorite discoveries, the brownish gray stone is only
the 15th identified as coming from the red planet, scientists
said this week.
"We're convinced it's from Mars," University of Tennessee
geochemist Lawrence Taylor said. He analyzed samples of the
Oman find with Mikhail Nazarov, a Russian colleague from the
Vernadsky Institute in Moscow.
The rock has chemical similarities to a Mars meteorite found
in Antarctica in 1984, which some NASA researchers said
exhibits fossilized signs of microscopic life.
The meteorite researchers tried to keep their work quiet at
the request of the finder. "The donor wished to remain
anonymous until he can negotiate, that's as far as I know,"
But Ron Baalke, a scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, learned of the meteorite this week at a rock and
gem show in Costa Mesa, California.
"I understand about 800 grams (28 ounces) of it will on the
market soon," Baalke wrote on his Mars Meteorite Web site.
A dealer selling meteorites from Oman provided Baalke with a
description of the Mars rock, which had been submitted to the
Meteoritical Society, an international organization of
professional and amateur meteorite investigators.
Called the Dhofar 019, the 1,056-gram (37-ounce) stone seems
to be made of martian basalt. It was picked up in the Dhofar
region of the Sultanate of Oman, which occupies the eastern
corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
Oman's diverse geography includes beaches and mountains and
the type of barren stretches that attract meteorite hunters.
"Desert regions seems to be good regions because things stand
out like a sore thumb," Taylor said.
Glass holds grains of truth about Earth's meteor history
April 3, 2000
Rare meteorite promises glimpse into dawn of creation
March 17, 2000
Rock hunter finds second Mars meteorite known in U.S.
February 4, 2000
Mars Meteorite Home Page
The Meteoritical Society
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.