A Martian meteorite collected during a 2012-2013 Belgian-Japanese campaign in the Antarctic arrived in Belgium on Tuesday to be examined in detail by researchers in Brussels, the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) announced on Tuesday. The meteriorite will be studied by researchers from the ULB and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
In 2012 and 2013, a Belgian-Japanese campaign was carried out in Antartica to collect meteorites with financial support from the federal scientific policy agency, BELSPRO, and logistical support from the International Polar Foundation, the ULB said in a press release. A Martian meteorite named Asuka 12325, in reference to the code name of the Princess Elisabeth Station in Antartica, was collected.
The Belgian researchers will now be able to study it to find out, for example, the age of the volcanic activity that formed it and to understand how Mars cooled down and developed a volcanic crust, the ULB explained. “These samples are precious for best preparing future Mars sample-return missions in the next 10 years,” it added.
Over 59,000 meteorites have been counted worldwide, 0.35% of them from the Red Planet, the university indicated. Researchers have never observed a meteorite leaving Mars, but Martian meteorites contain gas bubbles with the same composition as the planet’s atmosphere, measured by U.S. probes in the 1970s.
Thus far, 209 meteorites from Mars have been counted, 171 of them from the Shergotty family, named after the town in India where one of them fell in 1865. The meteorite brought to Belgium belongs to that family.