A strange stone found in the Moroccan desert was the talk of the recent Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The stone has highly unusual chemistry, suspiciously like that found by the Messenger space probe, which is currently surveying the surface of Mercury. If it was from Mercury, it would be the first meteorite from that body ever found. The prospects was thrilling but doubts crept in. WUSTL’s Randy Korotev, a lunar meteroite expert, explains the arguments for and against Mercurian origin.
Last January two amateur meteorite hunters dropped by Randy Korotev’s office at Washington University in St. Louis to show him their latest purchase, a 17-kilogram pallasite meteorite found in 2006 near Conception Junction (population 202) in northwest Missouri.Korotev, an expert in lunar meteorites, identified the stone as a piece of an asteroid. His lab also analyzed crystals within the rock to help identify its body of origin, eventually referring the meteorite hunters to UCLA for analysis of the metal in which the crystals are embedded.