You know what they say: Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and green meteorites are from… Mercury?
Just ask meteorite scientist Anthony Irving. At the 44th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas this month, Irving presented evidence that a mysterious green space rock found in Morocco in 2012 was, weirdly, blasted at Earth's direction from the inner solar system. If the meteorite fragment — labeled NWA 7325 — is what Irving says it is, it may just be the first-ever meteorite to pelt our planet from Mercury.
The fragment is part of a larger group of 35 meteorite shards discovered last year. According to Space.com, the samples are "ancient, with Irving and his team dating the rocks to an age of about 4.56 billion years."
So how do we know the meteorite is from Mercury, and not, say, Krypton? Well, meteorites are often imbued with chemical signatures distinctive of where they came from. In January, a Martian meteorite nicknamed "Black Beauty" was determined to contain trace elements of Mars' atmosphere (including water!). And space rocks from the asteroid Vesta — which is estimated to generate 5 percent of all meteorites found on Earth — contain the mother rock's colorful, geological fingerprints.
NWA 7325 is unlike anything space researchers have seen before, leading them to theorize that it came from Mercury. For starters, it appears to have been ejected from a planet that had "flowing magma on its surface at some point in history," says Space.com, since the rock could have come together as "scum" on top of the magma. (Check one point, Mercury.) The rock's "lower magnetic intensity" also resembles the cosmic yield that NASA's Messenger spacecraft has detected from the planet itself. (Check two.) And lastly, the fragment is strangely low in iron — just like a certain first-rock-from-the-sun. (Check three.)
And without any real-like Kryptonians to test the green meteorite's superpower-stopping abilities, its Mercurial origins may just have to do.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
Subscribe to the Week