A 4.5 billion year old meteorite, known as Yamato 691, was originally discovered in Antarctica back in 1969. Only recently one of its secrets has been revealed with the discovery of a mineral heretofore unknown to the modern world. The International Mineralogical Association approved the name of the new mineral, Wassonite, which honors Professor John T. Wasson of UCLA, well known for his achievements in the area of impact and meteorite research.
The size of the mineral sample defies the imagination as the amount the scientists found was minute; just one-hundredth the width of a human hair, proving that good things do indeed come in small packages. Although Wassonite is formed from only sulfur and titanium, its crystal structure is unique and has never been seen before anywhere. It is hoped this element formation will give scientists insight into how planets were originally formed.
Back in 1969, Yamato 691 was in the good company of other lunar samples from the first Apollo and the Allende and Murchison meteorites. The source of the ancient space stone can only be speculated but it is possible that it may have originated from an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.
The discovery of the new mineral would have been impossible without NASA’s transmission electron microscope, which is capable of isolating the mineral’s grains and determining their chemical composition and atomic structure.
The good news is that this is a very exciting time for scientists to live learn and teach. Every day, technology brings the realm of science fiction closer and closer to reality. While no one can say which is more frightening, information about how planets formed so many eons ago can only enhance mankind and push him further along the path to enlightenment.