Scientists Discover Two New Minerals In Meteorite That Crashed In Somalia

According to National Geographic, meteoroids are described as “lumps of rock or iron that orbit the sun, just as planets, asteroids, and comets do.” Meteoroids often form when two asteroids collide and chunks break into smaller pieces. The force of the collision can send those smaller pieces, meteoroids, in the direction of a planet or moon.

When meteoroids are headed for Earth and enter the atmosphere, the material begins to burn up creating what we call “shooting stars.” Most meteoroids that enter Earth’s atmosphere burn up but some survive the fall to Earth and are known as meteorites.

Photo: Flickr/Javier Vieras License: CC BY 2.0

While meteorites can be dangerous, like when one fell from space and landed on a woman’s pillow, they’re also valuable and often a coveted by scientists around the world.

NASA explains that meteorites possibly “contain a record of our solar system’s history going back some 4.6 billion years. By researching meteorites, we can learn details about how our solar system evolved into the Sun and planets of today—and how meteorite impacts could affect our future.”

Photo: Flickr/Mario A.P. License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Back in 2020, a meteorite landed in Somalia and scientists got to work investigating it. Amazingly, it wasn’t just an ordinary meteorite they found, but it contained two new minerals not found on planet Earth!

While the meteorite is likely going to be sold to a private buyer in China, a small piece was sent off for scientific research purposes.

In a news release from the University of Alberta, the 15-tonne meteorite is the ninth largest meteorite ever found.

Photo: Flickr/Steve Jurvetson License: CC BY 2.0

Chris Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta’s Meteorite Collection, said in the news release:

“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before. That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”

The minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite.

Scientists are excited to see what else they can learn from the meteorite.

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