Researchers have been studying the mysterious meteorite that exploded in Sudan in 2008. NASA estimates that the meteor weighs about 9 tons and was nearly 13 feet in diameter when it was discovered before the impact. After the meteorite entered the atmosphere and hit the surface of the earth, the researchers went to the Sudanese desert to collect the remains for research. One of these fragments suggests that the meteor is likely to have fallen off a large asteroid about the size of the dwarf planet Ceres.
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt. The meteorite is called Almahata Sitta (AhS) and is made of carbonaceous chondrites. The image above is part of a fake meteorite, and the color is fake. The composition of space rocks provides researchers with clues about the parent asteroid that was born to a given meteor.
The composition of asteroids can tell scientists how asteroids are formed. In this study, the research team analyzed a 50 mg sample of AhS under a microscope and found that it has a unique mineral composition. Discover that the minerals in asteroids are formed at moderate temperatures and pressures, higher than what you would expect in a typical asteroid, but lower than what you would find inside a planet.
One of these minerals is particularly puzzling, called amphibole, which takes a long time to form after being exposed to water. This particular mineral has only been discovered once in another meteorite. The high content of amphibole suggests that the fragments researchers are studying are broken from a parent asteroid that has never deposited meteorites on Earth.
More fragile minerals cannot enter the earth’s atmosphere. The researchers of the study also mentioned that they expect that the asteroid samples purchased by JAXA from Ryugu will reveal minerals that rarely occur in meteorites on Earth.