The lunar meteorite was spotted by a team of US scientists searching the ice sheet for rocks from space.
Antarctica is seen as a storehouse for meteorites because they can lie undisturbed for thousands of years on the snow. But most come from deep space and finding a rock from the Moon is an extremely rare event.
It is believed to have thrown out of the Moon when a giant asteroid collided, and circled the sun for aeons before falling to Earth. The meteorite, officially labelled MIL 05035, was identified by its composition. Only one similar stone has been found in the Antarctic before.
The black rock, which is slightly larger than a golf ball, weighs 142.2g (just over 5oz). It was discovered on December 11 last year, one of 238 meteorites collected during last summer in the Antarctic.
A field party from the US Antarctic Search for Meteorites program found the lunar meteorite on an icefield in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750km (around 470 miles) from the South Pole.
Scientists at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History say the meteorite is similar in composition to the basaltic lavas that fills the lunar seas but appears to have come from deep beneath the Moon’s crust.
Photo: Department of Geological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, US.
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