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Meteorites from Mars much younger than supposed?

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That’s the latest finding from Earth sciences at the University of Western Ontario (Canada):

In a paper published today in the journal Nature, lead author Desmond Moser, an Earth Sciences professor from Western’s Faculty of Science, Kim Tait, Curator, Mineralogy, Royal Ontario Museum, and a team of Canadian, U.S., and British collaborators show that a representative meteorite from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)’s growing Martian meteorite collection, started as a 200 million-year-old lava flow on Mars, and contains an ancient chemical signature indicating a hidden layer deep beneath the surface that is almost as old as the solar system.

The team, composed of scientists from ROM, the University of Wyoming, UCLA, and the University of Portsmouth, also discovered crystals that grew while the meteorite was launched from Mars towards Earth, allowing them to narrow down the timing to less than 20 million years ago while also identifying possible launch locations on the flanks of the supervolcanoes at the Martian equator.

This finding contradicts claims that the meteorites were more like four billion years old. If it holds up, one wonders what implications it will have for the hunt for life on Mars. One theory has been that ancient meteorites brought the fixings of life to Earth, if not life itself.

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