The mineral is formed from only two elements, sulfur and titanium, ?yet it possesses a unique crystal structure that has not been previously observed in nature?, explained NASA space scientist Keiko Nakamura-Messenger.
The mineral has been dubbed ?Wassonite? in honour of John T Wasson, a professor at UCLA who was involved in meteorite and impact research, including the use of neutron activation data to classify meteorites and to formulate models for the chemical make up of bulk chondrites. Wassonite has been added by the International Mineralogical Association to its list of 4500 minerals.
Researchers found Wassonite surrounded by additional unknown minerals that are being investigated. The mineral is less than one-hundredth the width of a human hair. It would have been impossible to discover without NASA?s transmission electron microscope, which is capable of isolating the Wassonite grains and determining their chemical composition and atomic structure.
It is believed that the meteorite may have originated from an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.