NWA 8656 — A PORTION OF THE PLANET MARS CONTAINING MARTIAN ATMOSPHERE
Sahara Desert, North West Africa
In a variegated patina of ash to russet hues, this Mars rock is sheathed in a naturally glazed desert varnish from its residency in the Sahara Desert. Surface peppering of long mineral lathes (clinopyroxene) and large pockets of impact glass (from an asteroid impact on Mars) are in evidence.
63 x 49 x 47mm. (2½ x 2 x 1¾in.)
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
The condition of lots can vary widely and the nature of the lots sold means that they are unlikely to be in a perfect condition. Lots are sold in the condition they are in at the time of sale.
Overall in excellent condition. Please note that weights and dimensions are approximate only. Please contact the department if you would like further advice on how to live with meteorites in your collection.
Specimens of the planet Mars are among the most exotic substances on Earth with less than 400 pounds known to exist. The delivery mechanism to Earth was an asteroid impact on Mars that ejected material off the Martian surface into an Earth-intersecting orbit. This is the 8,656th distinct meteorite to be recovered and classified by scientists after having been found in the Northwest Africa (NWA) region of the Sahara Desert. The determination of Martian origin is the result of research conducted by hundreds of scientists throughout the world. In addition to many arcane chemical and isotopic markers, most Martian meteorites share the following fundamental characteristics: they have an unusually young crystalline age and show evidence of a planetary sized gravitational field on their crystalline structure. The link to Mars was speculative until an analysis was conducted on the glassy inclusions of other suspected Martian meteorites. Within the glass were tiny voids, and within these voids tiny volumes of gas. The gas was analyzed and it matched perfectly with the signature of the Martian atmosphere as reported by NASA’s Viking Missions to Mars. The author of the scientific abstract on NWA 8656 is Dr. Anthony Irving, the world’s foremost classifier of planetary meteorites. The official classification of this meteorite appears in the 103rd edition of the Meteorite Bulletin. The specimen of Mars offered here has at least 10-20 times more impact glass and, it can be confidently inferred, more vesicles containing more Martian atmosphere than the two suspected Martian meteorites that proved their Martian origin.
Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalog note.
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