A hail of Martian meteorites crashed to Earth last July, and collectors and scientists around the world are snapping up the ultra-rare rocks for display and study. The meteorites fell in the Moroccan desert in July and were recovered a few months later. Scientists confirmed on January 17 that the rocks are Martian, presumably blasted off the Red Planet by an asteroid strike. The rocks are a rare treat for researchers, allowing them to investigate relatively pristine chunks of Martian material. Martian material is exceedingly hard to come by on Earth. Just 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of Mars rocks are known to exist on our planet, According to Darryl Pitt, curator of the Macovich Collection of meteorites in New York City.
The newfound Martian meteorites, which are called Tissint, after the shower that dropped them to Earth, represent a significant percentage of this material. Such freshly delivered pieces of the Red Planet have been found on only four other occasions. The other four fresh Martian meteorite falls occurred in 1815, 1865, 1911 and 1962. Scientists get excited by the chance to study such rocks because they haven’t been contaminated much by Earth organisms and weather.