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Meteor metal among solar system's oldest

June 26, 2012 at 5:07 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., June 26 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered a new primitive mineral in a meteorite that they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology studying a meteorite that fell in Mexico more than 40 years ago report they discovered the new mineral, dubbed panguite, embedded in the space rock.

The mineral, a titanium oxide, is named after Pan Gu, a giant of ancient Chinese mythology said to have established the world by separating yin from yang to create the earth and the sky.

"Panguite is an especially exciting discovery since it is not only a new mineral, but also a material previously unknown to science," Chi Ma of Caltech's Geological and Planetary Sciences division said.

The Mexican space rock, dubbed the Allende meteorite, is considered by many the best-studied meteorite in history and has yielded nine new minerals including panguite.

"The intensive studies of objects in this meteorite have had a tremendous influence on current thinking about processes, timing, and chemistry in the primitive solar nebula and small planetary bodies," said Caltech study co-author George Rossman, a professor of mineralogy.

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