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Monday, 22 May, 2000, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Martian meteorite found in Oman
Desert BBC
Professional hunters scour the deserts
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

A brownish grey stone weighing 1,056 grams (2.3 lbs) is thought to be only the 15th known meteorite to originate from Mars.

The discovery, made on 24 January this year in the Dhofar region of Oman, is extremely rare. Of the estimated 20,000 known meteorites, only a handful are confirmed as having come from the Red Planet or the Moon.


Rock Nasa
Mars rock ALH84001: Does it contain evidence of past life?
Most come from the thousands of tiny, irregularly shaped worlds that form the asteroid belt, which orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.

It is not known who picked up this new rock, provisionally named Dhofar 019, which it seems is made from Martian basalt. Whoever it was is staying anonymous - although it could be one of the professional meteorite hunters that regularly scour the deserts for rocks from space.

Analysis of the rock's mineralogy by scientists at the Vernadsky Institute in Moscow and the University of Tennessee suggest that it shows no signs of having been melted during its passage through the Earth's atmosphere.

This is possibly because it is a fragment of a once larger meteorite.

Scientists say that it has been subject to considerable weathering on Earth but it has similarities to the Martian meteorite designated ALH84001, inside which some researchers believe is evidence of past life on Mars.

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See also:

25 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
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New Mars meteorite found
27 Aug 99 | Sci/Tech
Life on Mars - new claims
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