found in Northwest Africa
What is NWA 10153?
Found in Northwest Africa in 2014, this meteorite is a Martian achondrite. It is classified as a nakhlite, which is a cumulate pyroxenite with large olivine phenocrysts. If this sounds like a terrestrial rock to you, then you are clued in to something special; cumulate pyroxenites form from magma, requiring a differentiated planetary body. Think core – mantle – crust.
How do we know it’s from Mars? A Martian origin for a meteorite is determined from a combination of isotope data, mineralogy, chemical composition, and trapped gas signatures, thanks to measurements made by the Viking Mars landers in 1976. Luckily, rocks from Mars are really attractive under the microscope!
Under the Microscope
In cross-polarized light, this Martian meteorite is a party in the micro-world. Clinopyroxenes and olivines put on a spectacular show of color. You can even see exsolution lamellae (parallel banding) in some of the elongated pyroxene grains. The white to tan orthopyroxene grains show iron-staining from surrounding iron-oxides. This is definitely a party we are into!
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Transmitted, Cross-Polarized Light