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SETI public: Purple Salt and Tiny Drops of Water in Meteorites

From: Ron Baalke <baalke@ssd.jpl.nasa.gov>
Subject: Purple Salt and Tiny Drops of Water in Meteorites
To: neo-release@www.jpl.nasa.gov
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 15:43:24 -0800 (PST)
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Purple Salt and Tiny Drops of Water in Meteorites
Written by G. Jeffrey Taylor
Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
November 24, 1999

Some meteorites, especially those called carbonaceous chondrites, have been
greatly affected by reaction with water on the asteroids in which they
formed. These reactions, which took place during the first 10 million years
of the Solar System's history, formed assorted water-bearing minerals, but
nobody has found any of the water that caused the alteration. Nobody, that
is, until now. Michael Zolensky and team of scientists from the Johnson
Space Center in Houston and Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia) discovered
strikingly purple sodium chloride (table salt) crystals in two meteorites.
The salt contains tiny droplets of salt water (with some other elements
dissolved in it). The salt is as old as the Solar System, so the water
trapped inside the salt is also ancient. It might give us clues to the
nature of the water that so pervasively altered carbonaceous chondrites and
formed oceans on Europa and perhaps other icy satellites. However, how the
salt got into the two meteorites and how it trapped the water remains a
mystery - at least for now.

Full story here:


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