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The largest and most celebrated collection of aesthetic iron meteorites in the world
 
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Just before Christmas 2011, meteorites were finally discovered from an event which occurred on July 18, 2011 near Tata, Morocco. What makes this particular extraterrestrial bombardment noteworthy is that this was the first shower of Martian meteorites---quite literally, chunks of the planet Mars---known to have occurred in 100 years. (A single Martian meteorite fell in Nigeria fifty years ago.)

How did it get here? Scientists concur an asteroid slammed into the Martian surface which launched bits of Mars into outer space. Why isn't it red? This igneous material is from below the Martian surface. How do we know it's from Mars? The isotopic and mineralogical signatures of Mars are highly specific. Moreover, previous Martian meteorites with glassy impact melt (which this meteorite possesses) have been known at times to contain tiny bubbles...which contain minute volumes of gas...which match perfectly with the signature of the Martian atmosphere.

Approximately 10 kg of material have been recovered from the Tata region. The Macovich Collection acquired more than 2.3 kg of this material to supply collectors, researchers and museums with samples. While there are several dozen intact meteorites weighing between a fraction of an ounce to more than two pounds, the vast majority of specimens are highly fractured---the result of a rough landing on Earth, where they struck a rocky outcropping and shattered on impact.

The pricing below is based on size, esthetics and the percentage of fusion crust (the black veneer a stone meteorite acquires when burning through the atmosphere). While typically less important to researchers (as fusion crust is altered, superheated material), encrusted specimens are prized among collectors

Mars is among the rarest substances on Earth---only a little more than 100 kg are known to exist---and here is a sampling of the most recent arrival:

 
 
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49081 PORTION OF PLANET MARS –
IMPORTANT OFFERING OF FRAGMENT THAT FITS INTO THE MASSIVE TISSINT CENTERPIECE AT LONDON'S NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

"The most important meteorite shower in 100 years"

Martian, olivine-phyric Shergottite – SNC Tata, Morocco – (29º 28' 55"N, 7º 36' 40"W)

As was widely reported, on July 18, 2011 a meteorite shower occurred near Tissint, Morocco which scientists confirmed were chunks of the planet Mars. While referencing a single specimen, Dr. Caroline Smith of London's Natural History Museum declared, "This is the most important meteorite to have landed on planet Earth in the last 100 years. It was picked up soon after it fell and has absolutely minimal contamination. It is effectively a pristine sample of Mars." Dr. Smith was interviewed following the Museum's acquisition of a very large 1,099 gram broken fragment of Tissint – the second largest specimen of Tissint on record. Every bit as pristine, now offered is the 327 gram fragment that was part of this very specimen. Like jigsaw pieces, the current offering fits perfectly together with the Natural History Museum's centerpiece. If these two pieces were reunited, at 1,426 grams they would represent the largest mass of this historic event.

Tissint shares the compositional and isotopic fingerprint of other Martian meteorites and has three faces blanketed in a glossy, glistening black fusion crust. It is an igneous rock (meaning that it formed from solidified lava) and this specimen contains very large clasts of the black impact glass maskelynite. Such clasts have been known to contain tiny pockets of the Martian atmosphere, as determined by NASA's unmanned Viking Lander. It should be noted that maskelynite requires tremendous pressure to form, a fact that is consistent with the delivery mechanism of this material to Earth: a large asteroid impact struck the Martian surface, launching chunks of Mars into space. Samples of Mars are among the rarest substances on Earth – less than 300 pounds is known to exist. Accompanied by a custom armature, Lucite dome, and copy of the scientific analysis of Tissint that appears in the Meteoritical Bulletin. This is an extraordinary offering of an eminent specimen of Mars. 87 x 68 x 53mm (3.5 x 2.66 x 2 inches) and 327 grams (0.75 pounds).



For more information please contact:
Darryl Pitt, Curator of the Macovich Collection
Tel: (212) 302-9200    Fax: (212) 382-1639