A Timepiece Truly Out of This World
France- Paris | Sep 13 2012 | (23:05:23 - EDT)
With the spotlight pointed on Mars thanks to the recent historic landing of the space rover Curiosity, Astralis is still the only wristwatch to contain a piece of the Red Planet – a fragment of Martian meteorite that traveled over 55 million kilometers before reaching the earth.
To date, only 63 meteorite rocks found on Earth have been identified as being from Mars. Louis Moinet has an exclusive collaboration with Luc Labenne, the most celebrated meteorite hunter.
In the following interview, he explains how he found Astralis’ Martian meteorite in the desert.
Louis Moinet Exclusive Interview with Luc Labenne
The distance between Mars and Earth is over 50 million kilometers. What is the path of a Martian meteorite before landing on Earth?
A Martian meteorite is a fragment of Mars ejected after impact from another a meteorite impact. To assess the age of the Martian rock, we first talk about the “formation age” on Mars. The impacts on the surface allows us to determine the “age of ejection” of the meteorite. The length of time between the rock leaving Mars and reaching Earth can vary from about 1 million years to 20 million years. The last bit of useful data is the “terrestrial age” of the meteorite ground, that is, the length of time it has been on Earth. These three dates allow us to obtain relatively precise information on the origin of the meteorite as well as the path it has taken before landing on Earth.
How can we be sure that a meteorite has come from Mars?
A sample is taken and then sent to universities and scientists such as A. Irving (University of Washington, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Seattle, USA), an expert in Martian meteorites or R. Korotev (McDonnell Center for Space Sciences, Washington Univ., St. Louis, USA), an authority on lunar meteorites. When identifying a Martian meteorite, the first thing is to establish its composition. Analysis of gases contained in the bubbles of the minerals can be compared with the results of analyses gathered by probes from NASA’s pioneering Viking program to confirm the Martian origin of meteorites. This is the main thing we have to do. Identification is then confirmed by the oxygen isotopes of these analyses. Finally, the control of the «formation age» of the rock enables the final confirmation. In fact, Martian meteorites are relatively young, about a few hundred million years old compared to 4.5 billion years for non-planetary meteorites. To date, 63 Martian meteorites have officially been found on Earth. Most have been dedicated to science or exhibited in museums.
Is the composition of a Martian meteorite very different from a terrestrial rock?
Martian meteorites found so far are mainly lava rocks so visually close to terrestrial basalt rocks. However, shock veins can be observed in meteorites, which do not exist in terrestrial rocks and this allows early identification in the field. But the main difference lies in the fact that the minerals in these rocks are partially melted due to the impact on Mars. Bubbles of gas specific to Mars are also present in these meteorites.
The meteorites that you find – for whom are they intended?
Primarily for scientists, then private collectors and museums. For lunar and Martian meteorites, most are intended for science due to their limited number, priority is given to research.
For more information on these impressive timepieces, visit: http://louismoinet.com
Source: Louis Moinet
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