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article imageMojave crater is source of most Martian meteorites

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2014 in Science
It has been estimated that most of the 150 or so Martian meteorites that have been found on Earth were launched into space during an impact that created the Mojave Crater on Mars.
The Mojave Crater is an impact crater in the Oxia Palus quadrangle of Mars. It is around 58 kilometers in diameter and 2.5 kilometers deep. The crater was named after a town in California, USA. The naming is because Mojave has alluvial fans (a largely flat landform), that look remarkably similar to landforms in the Mojave Desert in the American southwest.
The Mojave is believed to be the most recent crater of its size on Mars, and has been identified as the probable source of the shergottite meteorites collected on Earth, according to National Geographic.
Most of the 150 Martian meteorites found on Earth belong to one of three groups: shergottites, nakhlites, and chassignites (known as SNC meteorites). The latter two types are thought to have formed around 1.3 billion years ago. The shergottites are thought to be more recent, according to Science magazine. Shergottite consists mostly of olivine, the pyroxene mineral pigeonite, and plagioclase feldspar, making it a basalt. Shergottites get their name from the Indian village of Shergotty (Shergahti) in Bihar state, where a dark boulder fell from space on the morning of August 25, 1865.
This research suggests that a cosmic crash left the massive gouge on Mars and is the source of all shergottite or igneous rock Martian meteorites found on Earth. However, not all scientists agree. According to New Scientist, Harry McSween at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville previously worked with Werner on dating Mojave crater. However, he thinks the team has not made a strong enough case for this location being the source of all shergottites.
The research was led by Stephanie Werner, a planetary scientist at the University of Oslo in Norway.
More about Mars, Meteorite, Mojave crater
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