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Meteorite found in Morocco 'fell from Mars'

London, Wed, 18 Jan 2012 ANI

London, Jan 18: A meteorite that fell to earth and landed in Morocco last summer, has been found to have rare chunks from the planet Mars.


The event is the first of its kind since 1962 and will provide scientists with valuable samples from Mars that no space mission has ever been able to bring back.


The rock was seen falling to Earth in a fireball last July but was not found on the ground until December, when collectors began speculating it had come from the red planet, the Telegraph reported.


Tests overseen by a panel of international experts have now confirmed their suspicion. This is only the fifth time in history that scientists have officially recognised a meteorite which people witnessed falling, as being Martian.


Even before the official test results, museums, universities and NASA scientists were offering dealers vast sums for samples, which are among the rarest items on the planet.


One dealer, who acquired the rocks from the people who found them, said he charges between 7,200 pounds and 15,000 pounds per ounce and is almost out of stock.


The prices value the rock at about ten times the worth of gold.


Meteorite expert Chris Herd, who heads the committee that certified the find, has already bought a piece, and described it as "a free sample from Mars ... except that you have to pay the dealers for it".


Astronomers believe that millions of years ago something large collided with Mars, spraying rock into space where it began gliding through the solar system until a piece entered Earth's atmosphere.


It fragmented as it descended and one large piece reached the ground where it broke up into smaller pieces weighing about 15lb while some individual lumps weigh more than 2lb. (ANI)


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