1969 Meteorite Reveals Ancient Mineral
A meteorite lit up Mexico's skies in 1969 and decades later, its discovery is still paying dividends. The meteorite, named Allende, scattered fragments all over Mexico on impact and researchers recently discovered a new mineral among its remains, called Panguite.
"Panguite is an especially exciting discovery since it is not only a new mineral, but also a material previously unknown to science," Chi Ma, lead researcher and a senior scientist at Caltech, said, according to LiveScience.
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Panguite had never been seen before in nature nor had it ever been created in a lab. "It's brand-new to science," Ma said.
Researchers believe Panguite to be one of the oldest minerals in the universe at approximately 4.5 million years old. It's in a class of refractory minerals that experts say could only have formed under intense heat and pressure, such as the kind found at the formation of the universe.
Researchers used an electron microscope to see the Panguite within meteorite fragments. They analyzed the mineral to reveal its chemical composition and structure and said it could be explored for use in engineering materials.
The Allende meteorite is in the largest class of meteorites, called carbonaceous chondrites -- primitive meteorites that scientists say are remnants of the building blocks of planets. The majority of meteorites that collide with earth fit this category.
Panguite, made up of titanium dioxide, was named after a Chinese mythological figure named Pan Gu, who is said to be the first living being who created the world by separating yin from yang.
By studying the new mineral, researchers hope to better understand the origins of the solar system. The new mineral is detailed in the July issue of the journal American Mineralogist.
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