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Rare meteorite may hold clue to life’s origin

Rocking science: The Mukundpura carbonaceous meteorite has grains of calcium and iron.

Rocking science: The Mukundpura carbonaceous meteorite has grains of calcium and iron.  

Evidence of water-bearing minerals found in meteorite recovered from Rajasthan

A study of two meteorites which fell in Assam and Rajasthan over a span of 13 hours in 2017, by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), has concluded that they may contain “significant clues to the origins of life.

Late on the evening of June 5 last, a meteorite weighing 3.014 kg fell in Natun Balijan village in Tinsukia, Assam. Thirteen hours later, early on June 6, another meteorite, weighing 2.23 kg, fell in Mukundpura village under Sadiya subdivision near Jaipur.

Experts from GSI’s Meteorite and Planetary Science Division (the custodian of meteorites) studied both objects for over 10 months.

“The Mukundpura one is a carbonaceous meteorite, one of the most primitive types. They contain grains of calcium and iron which date to a time before the sun came into existence. They may contain clues to the formation of early life,” a scientist at GSI told The Hindu. Carbonaceous meteorites contain carbon compounds, including organic ones, and water.

The impact of the meteorite, which fell on sandy farmland, created a hole six inches deep, with a diameter of nearly 43 cm. The GSI now refers to the object as ‘Mukundpura carbonaceous meteorite.’ The GSI says this is a rare type, since carbonaceous meteorites constitute only 3%-5% of all meteorite falls. Analysis revealed the presence of water-bearing minerals in the meteorite.

The GSI report says the meteorite is “believed to have the most pristine primordial matter recovered from space, which might carry important clues to the origin of early life.”

Meteorites mostly originate from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The meteorite that fell in Natun Balijan in the flood plains of Lohit River, has been classified as an “ordinary chondrite.”

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 4:20:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rare-meteorite-may-hold-clue-to-lifes-origin/article23230290.ece

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