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October 15 2012

Mars meteorite may contain bubbles of 700,000-year-old Martian air

A lump of space rock that shattered the predawn calm of the Moroccan desert with a fireball and double sonic boom last year was knocked off Mars in a cosmic collision roughly 700,000 years ago.

The date of the Martian impact means the rock was flung into space and began its journey to Earth when the shared ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals was still alive and well in Africa.

Scientists dated the collision through a fresh analysis of the remains of the meteorite, based on the exposure of its elements to intense cosmic rays during its journey through space.

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