posted on Jan, 4 2013 @ 12:39 AM
A dark lump of rock found in the Moroccan desert in 2011 is a new type of Martian meteorite, say scientists.
Weighing 320g, the stone has been given the name Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034.
Its texture and chemistry set it apart from all previous objects picked up off the surface of Earth but known to originate on the Red Planet.
The researchers' analysis, reported online this week by Science magazine, shows the meteorite to be just over two billion years old.
The study was led by Carl Agee from the University of New Mexico, US.
"It has some resemblance to the other Martian meteorites but it's also distinctly different in other respects," he told BBC News, "both in the way
it just looks in hand sample, but also in its elemental composition."
There are just over 100 Martian meteorites currently in collections worldwide. They were all blasted off the Red Planet by some asteroid or cometary
impact, and then spent millions of years travelling through space before falling to Earth.