Meteorite study yields new mineral discovery

I've watched a few episodes of the show on Discovery Channel called Meteorite Men. I've really of only watched enough to know that tiny little fragments of meteorites can be worth huge amounts of money. The amount of money meteorites are worth to collectors pales in comparison to their worth to the scientific community. The study of an old meteorite has yielded the discovery of an entirely new mineral that was previously unknown to science.

The new mineral has been called panguite. The mineral was embedded in what's called the Allende meteorite, which fell to the earth in 1969. This particular meteorite has been studied since 2007 and a geologist working at Caltech named Chi Ma has so far discovered nine new minerals during his electron microscope study of the meteorite.

According to Ma, panguite was one of the first solid materials to coalesce in our solar system approximately 4.567 billion years ago. The minerals name comes from a reference to Pan Gu from Chinese mythology. In Chinese mythology, Pan Gu separated yin and yang with a giant axe creating Earth and sky. The chemical name of the mineral shows that it has zirconium as one of its elements. That particular element is believed to be a key element to help scientists determine what the environment before, and during the solar system's formation was like.

[via Wired]