MARS ROCK : Retro Martian Tissint Meteorite Display - Tata Shergottite

This new meteorite display features a sample of the newest and freshest meteorite from the planet Mars! - a small sample of the Martian shegottite "Tissint" which just fell to Earth in July of 2011. Very little of this material on the market right now. (read more about the Tissint Martian meteorite below)

Refer to the photo. The black centimeter cube is shown for scale and is not included.
Note - I am now putting the meteorite fragment into a clear gelatin capsule which is placed inside the display. This helps protect the fragment from shifting around inside the display.

The meteorite specimen is encased in a clear acrylic gemjar which is placed inside a handsome display box that has a black pebblegrain finish and a glass viewing window. The Mars Rock can be removed from the case and handled or examined. The color artwork inside the display has a retro-vintage astronomy theme and it was laser printed for highest quality. This display would make the ideal gift for someone who has everything. This would also make a fine outreach or educational prop and it would look great on display in the office or observatory.

More info about the Tata Martian meteorite -

Witnessed fall, July 2011 (Tata Morocco)

Two of the most exciting and collectible types of meteorites are witnessed falls and planetaries (lunars and martians). Naturally, meteorite enthusiasts love witnessed fall planetaries, and there have only been four of these meteorites in history. All four of these meteorites are Martians - Chassigny (1815, France), Shergotty (1865, India), Nakhla (1911, Egypt), and Zagami (1962, Nigeria). Of these four, Zagami is the only one that is readily available on the collector market. Chassigny is the "type specimen" for all Chassignite Martian meteorites. Likewise, Shergotty is the type specimen for all Shergottites, and Nakhla is the type specimen for all Nakhlites.

Every experienced collector knows that Shergotty, Chassigny, and Nakhla are very hard to acquire and are fantastically expensive. Most collectors who want to add a witnessed fall planetary to their collection must settle for a small piece of Zagami, a Martian shergottite that fell to Earth in Nigeria in 1962. Since Zagami, there has not been another witnessed fall of a Martian meteorite......until July 2011.

In July 2011, near Tissint in the Tata region of Morocco, a fireball was witnessed by desert nomads. Little did anyone know at the time, but that fireball heralded the arrival of a truly historic meteorite. There were witnesses who heard an explosion and other sounds when the meteorite broke apart in flight. When the first pieces of this meteorite were found, it was obvious that this space rock was not your typical ordinary chondrite. It had the unmistakeable glossy black fusion crust of an achondrite, and the exposed areas of the matrix showed a pristine grey material that was entirely devoid of chondrules or metal flecks. Excitement started to build when experienced hunters recognized these new stones as Martian meteorites.

For the first time in nearly fifty years, a chunk of the planet Mars had crashed to Earth and was recovered. Hunters, dealers, brokers, and investors went berserk over this new fall. The existence of this new meteorite was kept secret while hunters scoured the strewnfield for specimens. It was not until the last month that the existence of this meteorite was confirmed and it started to appear on the collector market.

In addition to the frenzy amongst collectors, scientists are very excited about this new Martian. Unlike all other Martians on the market, this new meteorite is fresh and pristine because it was recovered before terrestrial weathering could contaminate the material. This meteorite represents the freshest samples of the planet Mars ever to find it's way into the hands of science. Dr. Anthony Irving at the University of Washington is currently analyzing this meteorite for the Meteoritical Society and the official classification is expected to be finished very soon. Preliminary examinations have revealed that this meteorite is a shergottite and the provisional name is "Tata", although this is not expected to be the final official name.

According to reports, these is a scant 1-2 kilograms of this material on the collector market, and much of the overall TKW (approx. 8-9 kilos?) has already been allocated to institutions for study. Wealthy collectors have also snapped up the largest remaining pieces and the rest of this material is vanishing quickly into collections. I have managed to acquire a small amount of this new Martian meteorite and I am offering it to collectors. Now is your chance to own a pristine piece of the planet Mars!

From the official Meteoritical Bulletin entry for Tissint :

Tissint 29°28.917’N, 7°36.674’W

Tata, Morocco

Fell: 18 July 2011

Classification: Martian meteorite (Shergottite)

History: (H. Chennaoui Aoudjehane and A. Aaronson) At about 2 am local time on July 18, 2011, a bright fireball was observed by several people in the region of the Oued Drâa valley, east of Tata, Morocco. One eyewitness, Mr Aznid Lhou, reported that it was at first yellow in color, and then turned green illuminating all the area before it appeared to split into two parts. Two sonic booms were heard over the valley. In October 2011, nomads began to find very fresh, fusion-crusted stones in a remote area of the Oued Drâa intermittent watershed, centered about 50 km ESE of Tata and 48 km SSW of Tissint village, in the vicinity of the Oued El Gsaïb drainage and also near El Ga’ïdat plateau known as Hmadat Boû Rba’ ine. The largest stones were recovered in the El Ga’ïdat plateau, whereas the smallest one (a few grams) closer to the El Aglâb Mountains. One 47 g crusted stone was documented as being found at 29°28.917’ N, 7°36.674’ W.

Physical characteristics: Several fusion-crusted stones have been collected ranging from 1 to 987 g, with a total weight of around 7 kg. The stones are almost completely coated by glistening black fusion crust, characterized by thicker layers on exterior ridges as well as much glossier regions (above interior olivine macrocrysts). Some stones have thinner secondary fusion crust on some surfaces. The crust on some stones has been broken in places to reveal the interior, which appears overall pale gray in color with larger, very pale yellow olivine macrocrysts, and sporadic small pockets and some very thin veinlets of black glass. No terrestrial weathering is evident.

Petrography: (A. Irving and S. Kuehner, UWS): Olivine macrocrysts (to 1.5 mm) and microphenocrysts (to 0.4 mm) are set in a finer groundmass of patchily zoned pyroxene, plagioclase (maskelynite), Ti-poor chromite, ilmenite, pyrrhotite and minor merrillite. Both the larger olivine macrocrysts and smaller olivine microphenocrysts exhibit thin ferroan rims against the groundmass, and contain tiny chromite inclusions. Narrow ferroan zones also occur within the interior of some olivine macrocrysts.

Geochemistry: Olivine (cores of large macrocrysts Fa19.4-20.2, Fe/Mn=42-44; rims Fa43.2-60.4, Fe/Mn=50-55), cores of microphenocrysts Fa29.1-30.2, Fe/Mn=45-46; rims up to Fa53.3, Fe/Mn=53), orthopyroxene cores (Fs24.0-24.4Wo4.1-4.6, Fe/Mn=30-32), pigeonite (Fs26.1-51.6Wo11.9-16.9, Fe/Mn=31-35), subcalcic augite (Fs21.7-23.3Wo25.0-24.2, Fe/Mn=26-28), plagioclase (An61.1-64.3Or0.5-0.4). Oxygen isotopes (R. Tanaka, OkaU): analyses of acid-washed subsamples by laser fluorination gave, respectively δ17O = 2.849, 2.892; δ18O = 4.844, 4.943; Δ17O = 0.299, 0.290 per mil. Bulk composition (G. Chen and C. Herd, UAb) ICPMS analysis of powdered interior material gave Sm/Nd=0.646, indicating that this specimen has affinities with the depleted compositional group of shergottites.

Classification: Achondrite (Martian, olivine-phyric shergottite).

Specimens: A total of 30.3 g of type material and one polished thin section are on deposit at UWS. Other known institutional specimens include 370 g (ASU) and 108 g (UNM). The remaining material is held by anonymous dealers and collectors.

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