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A 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite could shed light on Mars' watery past

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Thursday, July 21, 2022 - 11:50am

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When you hear the name “Black Beauty,” you probably think of a certain horse that goes by the regal name. But now, Mars scientists have adopted the name for a certain, pretty special rock that has been found to be one of the oldest specimens from the red planet.

The meteorite was found in the Saharan desert and bought by an American who then donated it to the University of New Mexico last year. Scientists have been analyzing it for a year and now believe it contains evidence of water. The findings give us a glimpse into what Mars was like before it became a barren desert and how similar it may have been to Earth.

Valerie Payré is a Northern Arizona University postdoctoral scholar, Mars Science Laboratory collaborator and one of the scientists involved in the research. And we began with just how common this is to find a rock from Mars in this way.

the black beauty martian meteorite
Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed "Black Beauty," this Martian meteorite weighs approximately 11 ounces.

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