Spectroscopic measurements of the meteorite are a spot-on match with orbital measurements of the Martian dark plains, areas where the planet's coating of red dust is thin and the rocks beneath are exposed, researchers said.
The findings suggest that the meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, is representative of the 'bulk background' of rocks on the Martian surface, said Kevin Cannon, a Brown University graduate student and lead author of the new paper.
When scientists started analyzing Black Beauty in 2011, they knew they had something special. Its chemical makeup confirmed that it was a castaway from Mars, but it was unlike any Martian meteorite ever found.
Before Black Beauty, all the Martian rocks found on Earth were classified as SNC meteorites (shergottites, nakhlites, or chassignites).
They're mainly igneous rocks made of cooled volcanic material. But Black Beauty is a breccia, a mashup of different rock types welded together in a basaltic matrix.
It contains sedimentary components that match the chemical makeup of rocks analysed by the Mars rovers.
Scientists concluded that it is a piece of Martian crust — the first such sample to make it to Earth.
Researchers said the spectral match helps put a face on the dark plains, suggesting that the regions are dominated by brecciated rocks similar to Black Beauty.
Because the dark plains are dust-poor regions, they're thought to be representative of what hides beneath the red dust on much of the rest of the planet.

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