Martian Meteorites


The Mineralogy Museum  received two donations of the same fragment of Martian meteorite NWA 8656: a fragment of 9.88g given by ABC Mines and another fragment of 1.18g that the visitor can touch, given by Luc Labenne. They are displayed on a new dedicated case about Martian meteorites in the Museum.


The NWA 8657 Martian meteorite


The Martian meteorite NWA 8656, like NWA 8657, which is another fragment of the same Martian meteorite, was discovered in Western Sahara in 2014 by nomads. These nomads know very well these terrains (light in color and bar of vegetation), which they have been prospecting for years in group in search of meteorites.

The Martian Meteorite NWA 8656 is constituted by a multitude of fragments for a total weight of more than 1600 grams. These Martian fragments have lost most of their melting crust, because of their long stay in the desert, exposed to the wind of deeply abrasive sand.

External part of the 9.88g fragment of Martian meteorite NWA 8656 with the fusion crust visible , given par ABC Mines (#83439 ; 2.9 x 2.6 x 1.3 cm). 


The internal structure is grainy, gray to greenish-gray in color, with visible minerals such as maskelynite in the form of translucent grains. One can also observe dark pockets and veins of fusion glass which are the result of impact on the planet Mars, most likely formed during the impact that ejected this very Martian rock from the surface of Mars.

Internal part of the 9,88g fragment of the Martian meteorite NWA 8656,given by ABC Mines (#83439 ; 2.9 x 2.6 x 1.3 cm). 


NWA 8656 is a Martian meteorite that belongs to the shergottite group with a so-called diabasic texture. The rock is mainly composed of crystals of clinopyroxenes and maskelynite (shocked plagioclase).

The Martian origin of the meteorite was confirmed by the analysis of oxygen isotopes as well as by the iron to manganese (Fe / Mn) ratio.

The official statement of this martian meteorite can be found by clicking here.


Slice of 1,18g of the Martian meteorite NWA 8656, found in the Sahara desert, given by  Luc Labenne (Labenne Météorites) (#83439 ; 1.8 x 1.1 x 0.2 cm).



NWA 6963 and NWA 8716 Martian meteorites

To complete the collection, meteorite hunter Edwin Thompson gave another two samples of Martian meteorites to show the variety within shergottite martian meteorites: Shergottites NWA 8716 (called "Jrifiyaa") and NWA 6963.  NWA 6963 Martian meteorite is a natural fragment, showing both the crust and the green interior of the meteorite. The spectacular slice of the "Jrifiyaa" shergottite meteorite shows "large" crystals of zoned olivine in a fine green matrix.


Side of NWA 6963 showing the crust of this shergottite, given by Edwin Thompson (#83541; 2.2 x 1.7 x 1.2 cm, 6.1g). The interior is green and composed of abundant maskelynite and shock melt vein, while the crust is thin. It was discovered in 2011 by a Moroccan meteorite hunder near the river Oued Touflit, which became a popular place to hunt for meteorites.


 "Jrifiya" Martian meteorite, given by Edwin Thompson (NWA 8716, #83491, 1.9 x 1.4 x 0.1 cm; 1.16g). This shergottite shows Fe- rich core olivine crystals with dark Mg-rich rims, in a fine matric of patchily zoned pyroxene, maskelynite, chromite, troilite. It was found in the Sahara Desert in 2014.



About the donors


Luc Labenne

Luc Labenne, a general practitioner who has been practicing for more than 20 years, now dedicates his daily life to meteorites. The search for new meteorites is, for him, a real passion. His meteorites are the subject of advanced scientific research in major universities, institutes and museums around the world.

He is the founder and manager of Labenne Météorites and a member of the Meteoritical Society. He is also co-founder of the P'tits Pueillets d'Étoiles association, whose goal is to introduce hospitalized children to the world of stars. He also actively participates in Fripon / Vigiciel, a network of more than 100 cameras that monitor the sky in order to find meteorites shortly after their fall.

Luc Labenne is the donor of the magnificent lunar breccia visible in the new display called "Touch the Moon" as well as the piece of Martian meteorite to touch in the new display called “Touch Mars”.


Alain Carion

Passionate about "pebbles" from the age of five, Alain Carion opens his first shop at 18 years old. In 1982, he acquired his first meteorite. Since then, the passion for these extraterrestrial objects has never left him.

He has the largest private collection of meteorites in France, which was exhibited several times in prestigious museums. He wrote several books on the subject matter. Doctor in Sciences, he is a member of the notorious Meteoritical Society. His son, Louis Carion, with whom he traveled in many deserts in search of these "space rocks", had the chance to travel with Theodore Monod in Mauritania and Egypt.

Alain Carion is the donor of the fragment of the lunar meteorite that the visitors can touch in the new meteorite display.


Edwin Thompson

Edwin Thompson has collected rocks since the age of two years. Growing up just two miles from where the Willamette meteorite was found in Oregon was an inspiration to live a life of meteorite hunting. With a mother who was a school teacher, he learned all about meteorites at a very early age. Before completing studies in Geology and Archaeology, Thompson made his first journey to Northwest Africa at the age of 18 in 1972 where he lived and worked for 6 months teaching Berbers to hunt for rocks from Space. His efforts in Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Mauritania began to produce meteorites in the 1980’s. The modern day flood of meteorite material coming out of Africa began with a trip to Mauritania in 1997 to recover pieces from the fall of the El Hammami meteorite, followed by a trip in 1998 to recover pieces from the fall of the Zag meteorite in Western Sahara.

Edwin Thompson has lived an exciting life of adventure, searching for specimens from Space. He has provided research material to and collaborated with meteorite research scientists the world over since 1970 and has collected and hunted for meteorites since 1961. His efforts have produced tons of meteorite material and hundreds, possibly thousands of meteorite hunters.


ABC Mines

The association of the Friends of the Library and Collections of the School of Mines (ABC Mines) was born in 1988 at the initiative of Raymond Fischesser, Director of the School of Mines. The idea was launched by Claude Guillemin, curator of the Mineralogy Museum and by Mrs Phan and Matharan, mineralogy teachers. The role of the association is to showcase and support the School's collections, which are a true national heritage.

Financial and human support of the collections, the volunteers of the association helped with the digitization of the collection, the exhibitions, the national open doors days (Night of the Museums, Heritage Days). ABC Mines also participates in the enrichment of the collections, acquiring each year for the Museum samples that complete the collection. In return, ABC Mines offers its members classes, field trips and conferences about minerals.

The museum displays numerous samples bought thanks to ABC Mines, including the largest piece of Martian meteorite exposed in the new display case.



Meteorites from Mars! - Mines Paris - PSL

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