Meteorite's origin traced by Czech geologists

North-East Africa 003, photo: Jakub Haloda

Every year new meteorites are found on different parts of planet Earth. They travel for millions of years and it is usually impossible to say where they came from - but in just one case Czech geologists think they know - North-East Africa 003 is believed to have originally come from the Sea of Rains on the moon.

It traveled for 160 million years before getting sucked in by Earth's gravitation and landed somewhere in the Libyan Desert where it was later found by a Czech geologist and collector. Since only about 50 meteorites which have made it to planet Earth are known to have come from the Moon - North East Africa 003 was a significant find. But there was more to come. Czech geologists have been studying its make-up and comparing it to data available from various lunar projects. And it was the 1994 Clementine spacecraft research project which provided the answer.

Sea of Rains
Jakub Haloda of the Czech Geological Society says that a comparison of its findings and the make-up of the moonstone /a course-grained, low-Ti olivine rich basalt / indicates that it could only have come from one place on the moon - the Sea of Rains, also known as the Sea of Showers, a lava flooded giant crater. The information is doubly precious - not only is North East Africa 003 the only moonstone the origin of which geologists have been able to trace, but the findings moreover suggest that lava flowed over the moon's surface much earlier than originally thought.

North East Africa 003 was exhibited at the Stefanik Observatory in Prague in 2004 - just two years after it was found. Now it is once again hot news -and there are many who would like to get a glimpse of it. However the moonstone remains in private hands - and the collector in question wishes to remain in anonymity.