London: A small lump of the planet Mars that fell to Earth in a meteorite shower is set to fetch a whopping £ 1,60,000 at a US auction.
The rock, that is just 3.5 inches long and weighs 326 grammes, was formed under the surface of the red planet and was blasted from it by the impact of an asteroid millions of years ago.
After travelling through space it formed part of a meteorite shower that landed in the Moroccan desert last year. The meteorite was named after the village of Tissint, where it came down, the Daily Mail reported.
It was acquired by an American company that collects meteorites and earlier this year sold the bulk of it, a chunk weighing 1.1 kilgrammes, to the Natural History Museum in London.
It retained this smaller fragment which has now been made available for sale at auction.
The lump is an igneous rock formed from solidifed lava and has a glossy black fusion crust on the outside. “This piece is part of the same meteorite that formed the largest piece from the shower to fall to Earth,” Jim Walker, of the US-based Heritage Auctions, said.
“Whether it broke up on impact or separated earlier I don’t know but it does fit into the much bigger piece, like a 3D jigsaw,” Walker said.
“When they occur meteorite showers often fall in the Sahara Desert and locals have learnt to pick up almost any fragment of rock that they don’t recognise,” Walker added.
“Pieces identified as martian have been eagerly snapped up by collectors in the past and this seems reasonably priced. This piece has a beautiful fusion crust on the exterior and this has given it an added value,” he said.
The auction will take place in New York on October 14.