Name: NWA 7274
Weight: 228.03 grams
Specimen: Main Mass, End Cut
Location: Northwest Africa
Classification:   Lunar, Anorthositic Feldspathic Breccia
Date: Found - February 2012
TKW: 372.6 grams
Found in 2012, this anorthositic feldspathic breccia is unique – unpaired with any other known lunar meteorite. For more information see the entry in the Meteoritical Bulletin.


NWA 7274 Main Mass

The main mass of a meteorite is the single largest specimen from a given meteorite event. If there is only one meteorite associated with a given event, then that specimen, or the largest remaining portion, is considered the main mass. Most meteorite events are a meteorite shower, where many meteorites rained down upon the Earth's surface, and as is the case with all meteorite showers, it requires time before the main mass — the most sought after of all specimens — can be determined.

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Intro to Meteorites

Meteorites have held the fascination of mankind since the dawn of civilization. Dozens of meteorites are known to have been venerated and every major religion has a parable seeded by a meteorite impact.

Meteorites — not to be confused with meteors, the luminescent phenomena in the night sky — are fragments of natural material from outer space that impact Earth. Named after the closest city, geological feature, or post office to which they are “delivered,” meteorites originate from asteroids, comets, the Moon and Mars. Unlike meteor showers, which result from Earth's predictable, annual passage through cometary tails, meteorite showers are almost never predictable.

Meteorites are of great interest to scientists as they contain a tremendous amount of information concerning the formation of our solar system. In addition, it has been hypothesized not only that a meteorite led to the demise of the dinosaurs (allowing the opportunity for human life to evolve), but also that meteorites transported to Earth the precursors to life itself, more than four billion years ago. Organic molecules, including amino acids, have been found in some meteorites, resulting in the increasingly popular Panspermia Theory of Creation: life having been “seeded” on Earth by extraterrestrial impact.

The combined mass of all known meteorites is less than the world’s annual output of gold, and private collectors have been making the little excess material that does exist into one of the most in-demand collectibles today.

There are three broad categories of meteorites: stones (representing approximately 94% of all meteorites), irons (5%); and stony irons (1%). Stone meteorites quickly terrestrialize or become "weathered" after impact. To the uninitiated, stones typically appear to be of an Earthly origin, and recovery is problematic unless the impact is witnessed or the meteorite lands in an environment where it is easily detected. Iron meteorites are comprised primarily of iron and nickel, are more resistant to Earth’s elemental forces and are more easily recognized. On average, they are composed of 90% iron, 8% nickel, and 2% trace elements. The amount of nickel determines the type of crystalline pattern that will form, referred to as either a Widmanstätten or acid-etch pattern. This singularly dazzling crystalline latticework is unique to meteorites, and therefore diagnostic in the identification of meteorites.

Stony-irons, as the name indicates, are a combination of the stone and iron types and the most resplendent of all, frequently containing crystals of translucent olivine suspended in a nickel-iron matrix.

For a meteorite to be analyzed by scientists it must be broken or cut; only when multiple specimens of the same meteorite are recovered can complete specimens exist. In the event you have found what you believe to be a meteorite, you are urged to contact a sanctioned meteorite identification service, as each newly discovered meteorite is a possible Rosetta Stone that can assist in unlocking the mystery of creation.

Lunar Meteorites

Scientists agree that the impact of a large asteroid on the Lunar surface launched chunks of our Moon into space — portions of which landed on Earth. The meteorites that come from the Moon are the same age and composition as rocks that were brought back by the Apollo astronauts and by the Russian Luna robotic probes.

As of October, 2012, there are only 156 Lunar meteorite classifications known to exist. About one in every thousand newly discovered meteorites is a lunar meteorite, whereas the vast majority of meteorites are from the asteroid belt. The total weight of every Lunar meteorite known to exist is approximately 52 kilograms or 115 pounds. (By way of comparison, 2500 tons of gold as well as 8 tons of gem quality diamonds are mined every single year.) Clearly, specimens from our Moon are among the rarest objects on Earth. Moreover, of the 115 pounds of Lunar meteorite material in existence, most is forever off-limits to the private sector as lunar meteorites collected by the U.S. and Japanese Antarctic programs are, by treaty, held by those governments for research and education purposes only.

Lunar meteorites collected in Africa and Oman are, for all practical purposes, the only source of moon rocks available for private ownership. This is because the 841 pounds of lunar specimens recovered by NASA's Apollo astronauts are property of the United States government or of other nations to which the U.S. conveyed them as gifts.

Proof of Lunar Origin

The meteoritic community, as of October, 2012, lists 156 distinct Lunar meteorite classifications whose total weight is less than 115 pounds.

Lunar origin is established by comparing the mineralogy, the chemical composition, and the isotopic composition between meteorites and samples from the Moon collected by Apollo missions.

In January 1982, John Schutt, leading an expedition in Antarctica for the ANSMET program, found a meteorite that he recognized to be unusual. Shortly thereafter, the meteorite now called Allan Hills 81005 was sent to Washington, DC, where Smithsonian Institution geochemist Brian Mason recognized that the sample was unlike any other known meteorite and resembled some rocks brought back from the Moon by the Apollo program.

Cosmic ray exposure history established with noble gas measurements have shown that all lunar meteorites were ejected from the Moon in the past 20 million years. Most left the Moon in the past 100,000 years. After leaving the Moon, most lunar meteoroids go into orbit around Earth and eventually succumb to Earth's gravity. Some meteoroids ejected from the Moon get launched into orbits around the sun. These meteoroids remain in space longer but eventually intersect the Earth's orbit and land.