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No. 134: MAR-APR 2001

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Missing Martian Meteorites

Scientists scouring the Antarctic snowy wastes have collected 13 so-called SNC meteorites, which by virtue of their compositions are likely from Mars. These tiny chunks are believed to have been blasted off the Martian surface by five or six impacts of much larger meteorites. All save one of these Martian meteorites have formation ages of about 1.3 billion years.

The only part of the Martian surface believed to be 1.3 billion years old is the TMOM (Tharsis Montes and Olympus Mons) region. The rest of Mars -- about 90% of it is much older. To have 12/13ths. of the Martian meteorites originate from 1/10th. of the planet's surface is highly unlikely. Something is wrong somewhere; probably a bad assumption.

And what about that 13th. meteorite that did not get ejected from the TMOM region? This is ALH 84001, the controversial meteorite that contains strange worm-like structures resembling terrestrial bacteria. (See SF#130, #116, #110, #108, and #101.)

(Taylor, Richard L.S., and Mittlefehldt, David W.; "Missing Martian Meteorites," Science, 290:273, 2000.)

From Science Frontiers #134, MAR-APR 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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