Meteor confirmed to be a piece of Mars

Jan. 17, 2012 at 7:38 PM
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RABAT, Morocco, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A meteor that broke into fragments before falling to Earth in Morocco was a rare chunk of the planet Mars, scientist say.

The meteor was seen as a fireball over the African nation in July but the landing site was not discovered until December by collectors who immediately suspected they might be holding pieces of the Red Planet, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Tests by international experts have confirmed the fireball's fall was just the fifth time in history a meteor witnessed by people in the act of falling did, in fact, come from Mars.

Astronomers say they suspect something large collided with Mars millions of years ago, hurtling rocks from the planet into space where they have circled through the solar system until a piece occasionally enters Earth's atmosphere.

The fragments of meteorite in Morocco weigh a total of about 15 pounds, with some individual lumps weighing more than 2 pounds.

Even before tests confirmed their martian origin, vast sums were being offered for samples of what must be some of the rarest items on the planet. One dealer who acquired some fragments from people who collected them said he charges between $11,000 and $22,500 per ounce and has already sold most of his stock.

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