In a recent study, scientists assessed the 11-ounce meteorite NWA 7034, known as “Black Beauty,” found in Morocco in 2011. Like more than 300 other rocks that have tumbled to Earth from space, NWA 7034 arrived from Mars and blasted off the Red Planet by cosmic effects.
Earlier research discovered that NWA 7034 is the oldest recognized Martian meteorite, dating to roughly 4.5 billion years ago. It is furthermore the only so-called brecciated Martian sample available on Earth, implying that it contains angular fragments of numerous rock types cemented together. In contrast, every other known Martian meteorite contains a single rock type.
Until now, scientists were not sure where on Mars did NWA 7034 appear. Presently, researchers may have found out Black Beauty’s exact point of origin.
In a recent study, scientists utilized supercomputers to assess images of the Martian surface. “My team and I developed a crater-detection algorithm to detect all impact craters, down to about 100 meters [330 feet] in diameter, seen on high-resolution images covering the surface of Mars, about 94 million in total,” study lead author Anthony Lagain, a planetary scientist at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, announced in an interview.
The findings suggest that the oldest fragments of NWA 7034 were likely dug out from Mars 1.5 billion years ago by the cosmic impact that formed the 24-mile-wide (40 km) Khujirt crater in the Red Planet’s southern hemisphere. These ancient fragments, along with the rest of NWA 7034, were later blasted off Mars by a subsequent impact 5 million to 10 million years ago, which formed the Karratha crater.