Mercury meteorite among world's rarest rocks

November 26, 2013
From Mercury to Morocco, and onward to Yale: a meteorite’s tale
The magnetism of the meteorite formally known as NWA 7325 exactly matches that of Mercury.

( —Talk about a precious stone—the largest piece of the only known meteorite from the planet Mercury has found its way to Yale, where it is now on display at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Known as NWA 7325, the fist-size, greenish space rock is a rarity among rarities: there just aren't many verified planetary meteorites. Scientists know of about 70 from Mars and, until now, none from any of the other planets in Earth's solar system. There are about 180 known meteorites from the moon. NWA 7325 is the first believed to be from Mercury.

"If it's not from Mercury, it's from a very interesting place," said Anthony J. Irving, an expert in planetary meteorites at the University of Washington, during a recent appearance at the Peabody.

The meteorite's chemical composition provides the strongest evidence that it came from Mercury, a rocky world that is the smallest planet in Earth's and closest to the sun, Irving said. He noted the object's high magnesium and chromium content and its low iron content are similar to those of Mercury. Also, the meteorite's magnetism matches Mercury's magnetism exactly, he said.

"It's like 'CSI Solar System,'" he said.

The NWA in the name stands for Northwest Africa. The was found in fragments in 2012 in the Moroccan desert. It is estimated to be 4.56 billion years old, about the age of Earth. The piece on display at the Peabody was sold to a private collector in Germany, Stefan Ralew, who consulted with Irving.

The exhibition, "From Mercury to Earth? A Meteorite Like No Other," runs Nov. 22 to Sept. 2, 2014.

"This is great excitement for the Peabody," said museum director Derek Briggs.

Explore further: First meteorite linked to Martian crust

Related Stories

First meteorite linked to Martian crust

January 3, 2013

After extensive analyses by a team of scientists led by Carl Agee at the University of New Mexico, researchers have identified a new class of Martian meteorite that likely originated from the Mars's crust. It is also the ...

Martian rock from Sahara desert unlike others

January 3, 2013

Scientists are abuzz about a coal-colored rock from Mars that landed in the Sahara desert: A yearlong analysis revealed it's quite different from other Martian meteorites. Not only is it older than most, it also contains ...

Is this meteorite a piece of Mercury?

February 4, 2013

Pieces of the Moon and Mars have been found on Earth before, as well as chunks of Vesta and other asteroids, but what about the innermost planet, Mercury? That's where some researchers think this greenish meteorite may have ...

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.