Tom Lapen, a geology professor at the University of Houston and lead author of a paper published Feb. 1 in the journal Science Advances, said the findings offer new clues to how the planet evolved and insight into the history of volcanic activity on Mars.
In 2011, a meteorite fell in Morocco, the fragments scattering out over a distance, in what scientists call a ‘strewn field.’ The fragments, weighing about seven kilograms in total, or approximately the weight of a bowling ball, were quickly collected. These fragments, collectively called the Tissint meteorite, are Martian in origin, and can offer insights into volcanic activity on the Red Planet.
Lapen is the recipient of a three-year, $349,520 grant from the NASA Solar System Workings program, which will fund the ongoing analysis of Martian meteorites, including the Tissint. Other UH researchers involved in this research include Minako Righter, a researcher and lab supervisor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Stephanie Suarez, a master’s student in geology. Outside collaborators include Anthony Irving at the University of Washington and Brian Beard, a senior scientist in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.