Description

    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-physic Shergottite - SNC
    Tata, Morocco - (29° 28' 55"N, 7° 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).

    Provenance: The Back Plate Collection of Meteorites, Atlanta

    Estimate: $230,000-$260,000

    INTRODUCTION TO MARTIAN METEORITES - Meteorites from Mars are among the most exotic substances on Earth. The determination of the Martian origin of select meteorites is the result of research conducted by hundreds of scientists throughout the world. In addition to many arcane markers, these unique meteorites share the following fundamental characteristics: they exhibit an unusually young crystalline age (so that cant' be from Earth); they contain water-bearing minerals (so they can't be from the asteroid belt - the place of origin of 99.9% of all meteorites); there is evidence of a planetary sized gravitational field on their crystalline structure (which makes the most likely candidates of origin our two closest neighbors - Venus and Mars). The link to Mars was speculative until an analysis was conducted on the glassy inclusions of a meteorite suspected to be of Martian origin. In this glass were tiny voids, and in these voids were tiny volumes of gas. In 1997 the technology existed to analyze the gas - and it matched perfectly with the signature of the Martian atmosphere as reported by NASA's Viking Missions to Mars. As is the case with lunar meteorites, the delivery mechanism was an asteroid impact, which jettisoned material off of the Martian surface into an Earth-intersecting orbit.


    Estimate: $230,000 - $250,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Condition report available upon request.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    14th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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