According to recent studies, one of the thousands of craters that form the scarred surface of Mars is the most likely source of many Martian meteorites that have ever been removed from the surface of the Earth.
Scientists have focused on the Mojave Crater, which is 55 kilometers wide and located at the equator, as the place of origin of the so-called “shergotit” meteorites. This type of meteorites includes almost 75% of the 150 known Martian meteorites.
The crater is located a little to the north and east of the Plateau meridian, where the Opportunity rover of the NASA space agency landed in January 2004.
Martian Plateau of Meridian
Knowing where the meteorites came from would help scientists connect together all the stages of the history and development of Mars, a planet that is as close to Earth as possible in the solar system.
According to recent studies of the surface waters of Mars, there is clear evidence that the planet Mars remains the main contender for the existence of life beyond Earth.
Researchers point precisely to the crater of Mojave, as the source of the “horny”, for several reasons. First of all, its large size shows that it was created as a result of a sufficiently powerful impact capable of launching debris into space. Based on the power of cosmic radiation produced by meteorites in space, scientists believe that these rocks spent about 5 million years in interplanetary space before they reached Earth.
“Schergotits”, which have traces of cosmic rays for only about 1 million years, disintegrate during transportation, revealing freshly exposed surfaces, as well as new internal radiation areas. This theory was advanced by planetary scientist Stephanie Werner, together with the University of Oslo in Norway, having published these data in the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “Science” this week.
Secondly, the Mojave crater is a relatively young crater formed by the impact, which took place less than 5 million years ago in an area that is about 4, 3 billion years old. This is age, according to scientists, when “shergetites” were first formed.
The third and last evidence is based on chemical analyzes of the crater, made on the basis of data obtained using the instruments from the Mars Mars Express and Martian reconnaissance satellites of the NASA space agency.
Scientists have discovered reference chemical prints of pyroxene and olivine inside and around the crater. These two minerals are very often present in Martian meteorites. "Only the Mojave crater combines a suitable mineralogy of location, size and young age of formation, less than 5 million years," Werner writes in his letter sent to Discovery News.
“In addition,“ shergotit ”meteorites are igneous rocks formed at a depth of up to several kilometers, so the most volcanic areas can be excluded,” Werner added.
However, not everyone agrees with the findings of scientists.
“The evidence is not widely used,” said Karl Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico.
Agee claims that the age of the Shergothites, which Werner and his colleagues point out, is old.
“Many scientists have been researching these meteorites and dated their appearance ... and these data show that“ shergothite ”meteorites are young, only from a geological point of view,” says Agee.
“This is the“ heart ”of this story, which in itself calls the theory into question,” according to Agee. “Taking into account their last argument on the chemical composition of the crater, among other factors, the conclusion is that this evidence seems to me very doubtful.”