Four separate but seemingly identical stones, recovered in the Sahara Desert and sold to meteorite dealers in Mali and Mauritania, were subsequently obtained by a Moroccan dealer. Each of the stones was spectacular and it appeared from their similarity to previously classified specimens these were rocks from the planet Mars. Laboratory analyses led by the world’s foremost classifier of lunar and Martian meteorites, Dr. Anthony Irving, confirmed the suspicions.

As is the case with the Moon, specimens of Mars are among the most exotic substances on Earth with less than 250 kg (550 lbs) known to exist. The delivery mechanism to Earth was an asteroid impact on Mars that ejected material off the Martian surface that eventually found its way into an Earth-crossing orbit. 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 characteristic: they have an unusually young crystalline age.

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 vugs, and within these vugs were 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 matrix is extremely fresh. Olivine, pyroxene with maskelynite dominate; other minerals include chromite, ilmenite, merrillite, pyrrhotite and pentlandite. This complete, highly polished slice of a sample of the planet Mars is delimited by a rim of the meteorite’s external surface.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.

The analysis of this meteorite was led by Dr. Anthony Irving, whose findings underwent peer review by the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. The analysis and classification was published in the 109th edition of the Meteoritical Bulletin — the official registry of meteorite.

91 x 79 x 2mm (3.5 x 3 x 0.1 in.) and 32.74g
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