RARE Gujarat meteor set to reveal planetary secrets | Tech News

RARE Gujarat meteor set to reveal planetary secrets

A rare aubrite meteor that struck Gujarat last year has the potential to study planetary processes.

| Updated on: Feb 16 2023, 18:51 IST
What is a Meteorite? Know about these fallen “space rocks”
1/5 Meteorites are generally meteors that have fallen on Earth. When a meteoroid enters a planet’s atmosphere, it Is termed as a Meteor. If the meteor falls on the surface of the planet without burning up completely, it is called a Meteorite, according to NASA. (AP)
2/5 Therefore, it can be said that meteorites are broken up pieces of a meteor fallen on Earth or any planet’s surface. They can be found in various parts of the world where there have been previous meteor sightings. Meteorites typically range between the size of a pebble and a fist (Pixabay)
3/5 Meteorites can resemble rocks on Earth, but they usually have a burned exterior that can appear shiny. This “fusion crust” forms as the meteorite’s outer surface melts while passing through the atmosphere, according to NASA. (NASA)
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4/5 Although most meteorites found on Earth originate from smaller asteroids, they can also potentially originate at nearby planets such as Mars or even the Moon. Scientists can tell where meteorites originate based on several lines of evidence. They can use photographic observations of meteorite falls to calculate orbits and project their paths back to the asteroid belt. (NASA/JPL)
5/5 Meteorites that fall to Earth contain information about some of the original, diverse materials that formed planets billions of years ago, according to NASA. By studying meteorites scientists can learn about early conditions of the solar system as well as the processes which happened to reach where we are today. (Pixabay)
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There are indications that aubrite meteorites may have originated from the planet Mercury. (Representative Image) (Pixabay)

Last year, some fragments of a rare meteorite crashed in India. According to researchers, a meteorite that landed in Gujarat has been identified as a rare aubrite originating from a highly reduced and differentiated parent body within our solar system. What is particularly intriguing to them is that this uncommon element exhibits distinctive features of the highly reducing conditions present on the surface of Mercury. This finding could be crucial for gaining knowledge of secrets of planetary processes.

On August 17, 2022, fragments of a meteorite fell onto the agricultural land in the villages of Rantila and Ravel in the Diyodar taluka of Banaskantha district, Gujarat. Referred to as the Diyodar meteorite, researchers noted that the crash did not produce any visible trail but caused a loud noise resembling the sound of an airplane. The impact occurred on soft, clayey soil in the area.

The findings of the study have been published in the journal Current Science which suggested that the analysis of the fragments of the meteorite showed that they had a regolith-like appearance and were nearly identical in both areas. This indicates that the fragments most likely belonged to a single meteorite that broke apart while passing through the Earth's atmosphere. However, this is the second reported aubrite fall in India, after the Bustee falls in 1852 at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

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“The similar and unique characteristics of highly reducing conditions on the surface of planet Mercury and aubrite often suggest that enstatite meteorites are the potential petrologic and geochemical analogs of planet Mercury, even though we do not have any known Mercurian samples in our collection,” the study added. Hence, this will be important for understanding the planetary processes in the future.

What are aubrites

NASA explained that the aubrites are a unique group of differentiated meteorites that formed on asteroids with oxygen fugacities. Aubrites are a type of differentiated meteorite that are rich in enstatite and are believed to have originated from the inner asteroid belt. They were formed under highly reduced conditions and are characterized by very low oxygen fugacities.

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First Published Date: 16 Feb, 18:49 IST