March 03, 2017
Postdoctoral scholar Mohit Melwani Daswani, Associate Professor (part time) Phillipp Heck, and former Postdoctoral scholar Nicolas Greber analyzed a newly discovered meteorite, discovered in Northwest Africa. Oxygen isotope analyses to aid in its classification were performed at the Open University (UK). The meteorite has now been officially named Northwest Africa (NWA) 11115. The analyses show that NWA 11115 is from Mars. Specifically, it is a shergottite, and is most likely a sample of either the Tharsis volcanic province or the adjacent Amazonis-Elysium lava plains. CT scans of the meteorite can now be viewed at the Field Museum of Natural History. While NWA 11115 is petrographically and compositionally similar to other martian basaltic and martian olivine-phyric meteorites, it is geochemically distinct from other martian meteorites and from the surface of Mars, because of its anomalously low potassium to thorium (K/Th) ratio. The investigation into the cause of this anomaly is ongoing.