The ‘Black Beauty’ Meteorite
According to the results of the new study,soon after the creation of the solar system,Mars may have formed a primordial crust capable of hosting life.The research is based on the analysis of the rare and super valuable Black Beauty Meteorite,which was discovered in the Sahara Desert back in 2011.
Early in the history of our solar system,rocky planets such as Earth and Mars are thought to have been covered in global oceans of liquid magma.Eventually,these oceans are thought to have crystallized or solidified,giving rise to relatively outer layers known as crusts.
For obvious reasons,the formation of crust is a vital step towards making a planet viable candidate for the emergence of life,yet the timelines upon which these geological processes took place are still poorly understood.
A solid crust, potentially housing oceans with water and life,emerged on Mars about 130 million years before the surface of the Earth solidified ,say scientists who analysed a rare meteorite called ‘Black Beauty’.
The early surface of Mars consisting of a liquid magma ocean crystallised extremely rapidly ,just 20 million year after the formation of solar system.
The Black Beauty is an especially expensive specimen,with a single gram of meteorite.The scientists behind the new study were able to obtain an impressive 44 grams of the rare meteorite .Their goal was to analyze deposits of a mineral called zircon that was embedded within the black beauty.
It was found that the deposits contained a significant levels of the chemical element hafnium,which formed part of the earliest crust of Mars.By analyzing these tiny pieces of ancient Mars,the scientists were able to conclude that Red planet’s surface-spanning ocean of magma had crystallized within 20 million years of creation of the solar system.
And that soon after,a solid crust had come to form.This primordial crust could have played host to oceans of water,presenting a theoretically habitable environment.
In this case a time capsule with Hafnium that originates from the earliest crust of Mars,which was present approximately 100 million years ago before the oldest zircon of Black Beauty was created.
Zircon is a very robust mineral that is ideally suited to provide absolute gases.In this context Zircon can be used to establish a temporal framework to understand the formation history of Martian crust.
Zircon also acts as a small time capsule as it preserves information about the environment where and when it was created.This means Mars had a shallow crust that could potentially house oceans and perhaps also life!