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Black Beauty meteorite may explain Mars' dark plains

Scientists say that we might have an actual piece of Mars' dark plains, here on Earth, in the form of a meteorite that was found in the Moroccan desert in 2011, and the meteorite dubbed "Black Beauty" may explain the Red Planet's dark plains.

Classified as NWA 7034 (for Northwest Africa) the meteorite is a 320-gram piece of Martian basaltic breccia made up of small fragments cemented together in a dark matrix.

Dubbed "Black Beauty," NWA 7034 is one of the oldest meteorites ever discovered and is like nothing else ever found on Earth.

Black Beauty is a 4.4-billion-year-old chunk of Mars' dark crust - the only known piece of such to have landed on Earth, according to a new study on a fragment of the meteorite by researchers from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and the University of New Mexico.

The researchers utilized a hyperspectral imaging technique to collect data from across the whole fragment. In doing this, the measurements matched what's been detected from Mars orbit by NASA' Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Kevin Cannon, a Brown University graduate student and lead author of a new paper published in the journal Icarus, said other techniques give us measurements of a dime-sized spot.

Apart from indicating a truly ancient piece of another planet, these findings suggest at what the surface of many parts of the red planet may be like just below the rusty soil - a surface that's been shattered and reassembled several times by meteorite impacts.