Two Extraterrestrial Minerals Have Been Found in a Meteorite

Two Extraterrestrial Minerals

Researchers have found two new minerals that have never been seen on Earth before in a tremendous meteorite that was found in Somalia two years ago.

As reported by Live Science, researchers from the University of Alberta discovered the “new to science” minerals in a single 70-gram slice of a 15-ton meteorite excavated in east Africa in 2020. The team studied the space rock sample after it was sent to them for classification, but carried out further investigations upon discovering the minerals.

The two minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first name derives from the meteorite itself, which was dubbed the “El Ali” as a direct reference to the town in which it was found, in the Hiiraan region of Somalia. The second mineral takes its name from planetary expert Lindy Elkins-Tanton in recognition of her contributions to science.

“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before,” professor Chris Herd of the University of Alberta said in a statement. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”

The team thinks that the newly-discovered minerals could hold some vital clues about asteroid formation. They plan to study both substances further to hopefully decide the conditions in the meteorite when it formed to potentially deliver a better understanding of the geologic processes of the asteroid the meteorite came from.

To carry out this research, the team was hoping to get more samples of the meteorite but their plans might be in jeopardy as Herd said the researchers received news that the space rock had shifted to China in search of a potential buyer — which is often the case for meteorites because they have a very high selling value due to their scarcity.

Some space rocks are arguably more sought after than others, but if you’re curious about the higher end of this market, then you should know there’s a big metallic asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter that has an estimated worth of $10,000 quadrillion. However, researchers have determined against utilizing its metallic mass for any monetary gain.

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