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Title    : Extraterrestrial Water Found Trapped in Meteorite
Author :
Date    :


On a clear day in west Texas, on March 22, 1998, a meteorite fell to Earth
and was seen up by a group of boys. They picked up the stone and it made its
way to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) for analysis. In a JSC clean room two
days later, the grey rock was opened with a hammer. Scientists found blue and
purple halite inside. Halite is a salt crystal, similar to table salt. The
crystals were up to 3 milimeters (less than a tenth of an inch) in diameter.
These are the largest halite crystals ever seen by scientists in any
extraterrestrial material. The presence of water inside the crystals was
confirmed using several forms of scientific analysis.

The crystals have turned blue and purple by radiation, and are estimated to
be 4.5 billion years old. That means that the trapped water could predate the
sun and planets in our Solar System.

According to the authors, the study of this meteorite has resulted in a
finding that a brine solution was present when the Solar System was formed.
The brine could have been flowing within the asteroid itself when it was in
space or it could have been deposited on the asteroid by a passing object,
such as a comet.

The full story appears as an article entited Asteroidal Water Within Fluid
Inclusion-Bearing Halite in an H5 Chondrite, Monahans (1998) in the Journal,
Science's edition of August 27, 1999. The authors are Michael E. Zolensky
(JSC), Robert J. Bodnar (Department of Geological Sciences, Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA), Everett K. Gibson Jr. (JSC), Laurence E. Nyquist (JSC),
Young Reese (Lockheed Martin Space Operations Company, Houston, TX), Chi-Yu
Shih (Lockheed Martin Space Operations Company, Houston, TX), and Henry
Wiesmann (Lockheed Martin Space Operations Company, Houston, TX)

To learn more about NASA's work in extraterrestrial materals, follow this
link to the Home Page for the Curator for Astromaterials Samples at Johnson
Space Center in Houston, TX. That organization's mission is to protect,
preserve, and distribute for study samples from the Moon, Mars, and
interplanetary space in support of solar system exploration.





� Layout Copyright 1998 Adam Finzel - Articles are copyright of the authors