ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Was there life on Mars? Scientists may be one step closer to answering that question - thanks to the work of a University of New Mexico professor.
What he's discovered in a baseball-sized rock found in Africa has caused a frenzy of excitement and led to worldwide media attention.
"This is my favorite meteorite of all time," Dr. Carl Agee said Thursday when he sat down with KRQE News 13.
It's understandable why this rock is Carl Agee's favorite; "This thing has locked in it, great secrets about Mars."
The meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, landed on Agee's desk after an America meteorite collector bought it from a dealer in Africa.
"That meteorite dealer in Morocco had purchased it from a Bedouin or nomad who had found it in the Saharan desert in Morocco," said Agee.
Little did anyone know just how far this little guy had traveled; "The reason it came to me was it was so unusual no one knew what it was."
When Agee went into his lab at UNM and took a close look he realized the rock was Martian and very rare.
"This is the first sample that appears to be coming from the surface where the rovers have been doing their studies," said Agee.
Rovers like Curiosity, which is currently roaming the Martian surface.
Black Beauty dates back two billion years and has 10-30 percent more water in it than any other Mars meteorite found on earth. Agee believes it was formed when the planet moved from a possible life sustaining climate to a cold, barren environment.
"It gives us yet another link to try and understand if there was ever life on Mars," said Agee.
And this is only the beginning; samples of the meteorite are being sent all over the world and there is still a lot to be discovered about what the rock holds inside.
Agee estimates Black Beauty would be worth about a million dollars; but it's scientific value is priceless.
Agee says the meteorite is only on loan right now from the American collector but the university hopes he may donate it to UNM for research.
Since UNM did classify the rock the school will get to keep a piece of it.
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