Martian Meteorite (Nakhla)


The Nakhla meteorite is a piece of Mars. It came to Earth, landing at El Nakhla el Baharia in Egypt in 1911 (9 am in the morning of 28th June to be precise). About forty variable-sized pieces of the meteorite (up to 2 kg in weight) have since been recovered. Legend has it that one fragment of this meteorite hit a dog and immediately vapourised it.

In total there are 34 meteorites that are thought to have come from Mars. They are all considered to have been ejected from the planet following a large impact event.

The Nakhla meteorite is very important scientifically, because it was the first of the Martian meteorites to show evidence of aqueous processes on Mars and because in 1999 NASA scientists reported that within it they had found carbonaceous material that hinted at the remains of bacteria. Evidence for “Primitive Life on Mars”?

Credits: OU/CEPSAR, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge and the Natural History Museum, London.

1.5 cm across

Courtesy of the Natural History Museum, London
Labelled viewsRMS-LabelStill-Nakhla.html

View thin section

SEM view

Transmitted light
between crossed polars
Rotation point 1RMS-Rotation1-Nakhla.html
Transmitted light
plane polarised

Object movie

Reflected Light
Rotation point 2RMS-Rotation2-Nakhla.html
Fusion CrustRMS-SEM-Nakhla1.html

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Nakhla meteorite

showing glassy

fusion crust

Courtesy of David McKay, NASA

Pits on the surface of a mineral match

those made by bacteria on Earth


Map of Egypt showing where the Nakhla meteorite fell

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