Could there be materials on other planets that we don't have on Earth?
The Allende meteorite contained at a material that has not only never been seen on Earth, but wasn’t even known to be possible!
Asked by: James Whalley, Colchester
Yes, without a doubt – because every so often, we get a delivery of such stuff from meteorites. Chemical analysis has so far identified around 300 minerals in these chunks of debris from deep space, including around 40 that have only ever been seen in meteorites.
One of the most intriguing materials so far was found in the Allende meteorite, which exploded over Mexico in 1969. After analysing samples from the debris, scientists in 2012 announced the discovery of a material that has not only never been seen on Earth, but wasn’t even known to be possible. Named ‘panguite’ – after the giant Pan Gu who created the Earth in Chinese mythology – it consists of a bizarre mix of elements, including titanium, zirconium and scandium.
Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.