Interference With Planet Formation Theory: The Chassigny Meteorite


Have you ever heard something about meteorites that really captured your attention? Most of us probably had. Considering they come from outer space, meteorites have always had a space in humanity as part of science fiction as well as children’s stories. When compared to today, those stories can be considered pretty accurate. Meteorites can tell great stories about the place they originated from through their formations. One of the greatest examples of that is “the Chassigny meteorite”(“Martian Meteorite Upsets Planet Formation Theory.”).

Before that, let’s take a look at planet formation: Planets acquire volatile elements from the nebula around a young star when they are first starting to form(“Martian Meteorite Upsets Planet Formation Theory.”). And since the planet is in the process of forming and is still hot enough to be molten, these mix in together with the magma. Thus, these volatile elements in the interior of the planet should be directly correlated to ones of the solar nebula. On the other hand, chondritic meteorites crashing into the young planet can also deliver more materials, which is another way a planet can acquire volatile elements(Péron). However, these chondritic meteorites reflect the composition of the atmosphere of a planet instead of the interior. Therefore, information on the solar nebula is acquired through the volatile elements in the magma and the interior of the planet, while the atmosphere of the planet mostly gives information about the meteorites.

According to an article published in Science, the distinction between the two options can be distinguished by the ratio of isotopes of noble gases, and most importantly krypton (Péron).

Mars has always been a hot topic compared to other planets since it formed and solidified quicker than others. And apart from “the Chassigny meteorite” that landed in France in 1815, most meteorites that landed on Earth from Mars were generalized as being from the surface of Mars. And being from the surface means that they were longer exposed to the atmosphere of Mars and, thus, the volatile elements in the atmosphere that mostly came from meteorites. However, the Chassigny meteorite, as mentioned, is believed to be from the interior of the planet. So, the researchers tried to determine the origin elements of the meteorite by measuring the quantity of Krypton isotopes.

the Chassigny meteorite

In the end, the krypton isotopes in the meteorite matched those originating from meteorites instead of the solar nebula. This concluded that deliverance of volatile elements occurred through meteorites in the presence of nebula as well, which was much earlier than widely presumed (Fell).

Overall, by looking at the isotopes in a meteorite from Mars, researchers unveiled the peculiarities of its formation. Through studying a meteorite with a wise technique, they were able to pinpoint the distinction between the formation of Mars and other planets. Just by studying the composition of an object, in this case, a rock, gave us information about millions of years before…


Works Cited


1- “Martian Meteorite Upsets Planet Formation Theory.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 16 June 2022, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220616141516.htm.


2- Fell, Andy. “Martian Meteorite Upsets Planet Formation Theory.” UC Davis, 16 June 2022, https://www.ucdavis.edu/curiosity/news/martian-meteorite-upsets-planet-formation-theory.


3- Sandrine Péron, Sujoy Mukhopadhyay. Krypton in the Chassigny meteorite shows Mars accreted chondritic volatiles before nebular gases. Science, 2022; DOI: 10.1126/science.abk1175


4- Markopoulou, Eri, et al. “Planetary Evolution Reveals a Volatile History.” Horizon Magazine, 5 Nov. 2021, https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/horizon-magazine/planetary-evolution-reveals-volatile-history.


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