Two Extraterrestrial Minerals Have Been Discovered in a Meteorite

Researchers have discovered at least two new minerals that have never been seen on Earth before in a massive meteorite that was found in Somalia two years ago.

As reported byÂLive Science, researchers from the University of Alberta discovered the “new to science” minerals in a single 70-gram slice of a 15-ton meteorite unearthed in east Africa in 2020. The team examined the space rock sample after it was sent to them for classification, but carried out further investigations upon finding the minerals.

Image credit: University of Alberta.

The two minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first name derives from the meteorite itself, which was dubbed the “El Ali” as a direct reference to the town in which it was found, in the Hiiraan region of Somalia. The second mineral takes its name from planetary expert Lindy Elkins-Tanton in recognition of her contributions to science.

“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before,” professor Chris Herd of the University of Alberta said in a statement. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”

The team believe that the newly-discovered minerals could hold some important clues about asteroid formation. They plan to examine both substances further to hopefully determine the conditions in the meteorite when it formed to potentially offer a better understanding of the geologic processes of the asteroid the meteorite came from.

To carry out this additional research, the team were hoping to obtain more samples of the meteorite but their plans might be in jeopardy as Herd said the researchers received news that the space rock had moved to China in search of a potential buyer — which is often the case for meteorites because they have a high selling value due to their scarcity.

Some space rocks are arguably more sought after than others, but if you’re interested in the higher end of this market, then you should know there’s a giant metallic asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter that has an estimated worth of $10,000 quadrillion. However, researchers have decided against utilizing its metallic mass for any business gain.


Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for .ÂFollow her on Twitter.

Cover image credit: University of Alberta.


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