Meteorite Yields New Ancient Mineral

Panguite found inside 1969 fireball
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2012 12:58 AM CDT
Updated Jun 27, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
A fragment of the Allende meteorite, said to be the world's best-studied.   (H.Raab/Wikipedia)

(Newser) – A mineral new to science but older than our planet has been found in fragments of a meteorite that smashed into northern Mexico in 1969. Panguite was found in bits of the Allende meteorite by Caltech researchers who used an electron-scanning microscope to study minerals that were trapped inside the meteorite as it formed, LiveScience reports. The new titanium oxide mineral, believed to be some 4.5 billion years old, was named after Pan Gu, a giant from Chinese mythology who created the world by separating yin and yang.

Panguite contains familiar elements like oxygen and magnesium, as well as more exotic ones like zirconium and scandium, Wired notes. "Panguite is an especially exciting discovery since it is not only a new mineral, but also a material previously unknown to science," noted the lead researcher. The mineral's chemical composition and crystal structure is unique and could be explored for new building materials, he says.

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