Properties and distribution of paired candidate stony meteorites at Meridiani Planum

Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity investigated four rocks, informally dubbed Barberton, Santa Catarina, Santorini, and Kasos, that are possible stony meteorites. Their chemical and mineralogical composition is similar to the howardite, eucrite, and diogenite group but with additional metal, similar to mesosiderite silicate clasts. Because of their virtually identical composition and because they appear to represent a relatively rare group of meteorites, they are probably paired. The four rocks were investigated serendipitously several kilometers apart, suggesting that Opportunity is driving across a larger population of similar rock fragments, maybe a meteorite strewn field. Small amounts of ferric Fe are a result of weathering. We did not observe evidence for fusion crusts. Four iron meteorites were found across the same area. Although mesosiderites are stony irons, a genetic link to these irons is unlikely. The stony meteorites probably fell later than the irons. The current atmosphere is sufficiently dense to land such meteorites at shallow entry angles, and it would disperse fragments over several kilometers upon atmospheric breakup. Alternatively, dispersion by spallation from an impacting meteoroid may have occurred. Santa Catarina and a large accumulation of similar rocks were found at the rim of Victoria crater. It is possible that they are associated with the impactor that created Victoria crater, but our limited knowledge about their distribution cannot exclude mere coincidence.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Properties and distribution of paired candidate stony meteorites at Meridiani Planum
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets
DOI 10.1029/2010JE003616
Volume 115
Issue E7
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 14 p.
Other Geospatial Meridiani Planum, Mars