NASA and researchers from the United States, South Korea and Japan have discovered a new mineral species named 'Wassonite' in meteorites found in Antarctica in December 1969. Meteorites may come from asteroids that orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Wassonite is the smallest but important mineral species, identified in meteorites is 4.5 billion years old.
The research team led by Keiko Nakamura-Messenger, scientists from NASA, the findings add to the list that contains 4500 types of minerals that have been approved by the International Mineralogical Association. "Wassonite is a mineral that is formed only of two elements, sulfur and titanium. Minerals has a unique crystal structure that has not been investigated,"said Nakamura-Messenger.
In 1969, members of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition found nine meteorites in the Yamato Mountains, Antarctica. Then the U.S. and Japan continueddo search there and found more than 40 thousand species ,including meteorites from Mars . The researchers found Wassonite surrounded by additional minerals which are also still being investigated. Wassonite measuring less than one hundredth the width of human hair or 50x450 nanometers.
With such a small size, it is impossible to find without help Wassonite NASA's transmission electron microscope, capable of determining the composition and structure of the atom Wassonite.