Martian meteorite, nakhlite, witnessed fall June 28, 1911, Egypt. Fragment with fusion crust. Weighing 1.1 grams and measuring 11 mm x 8 mm x 7 mm. Nakhla is that rarest of things. It is a Martian meteorite, yes, but it is also a witnessed fall Martian, of which only five exist in all of history. The others fell to Earth in Nigeria (1962), Morocco (2011), India (1865), and France (1815). Imagine the puzzlement that must have existed in academia, prior to Johnson and Bogard’s 1982 groundbreaking discovery regarding the nature of Martian meteorites. There was no doubt that Nakhla was a meteorite; it was seen to fall in 1911 and it displayed fusion crust that was acquired as the mass fell, burning, to Earth. But its characteristics and composition were radically different from most other known meteorites. It wasn’t until Johnson and Bogard’s work indicated a Martian origin for Nakhla and its cousins that the mystery was solved.
Combine the desirability of a witnessed fall with a rarity of a piece of Mars, add in the fact that Nakhla gave name to a meteorite class—the nakhlites—and throw in an apocryphal story of how it “vaporized” a dog on impact in early twentieth century Egypt, and you have one of the most entertaining space rock tales ever told. While there are several Martian meteorites in this catalog, this lot is of particular note. Witnessed fall Martians are infrequently made available and are coveted by researchers and collectors alike. This specimen shows some fusion crust on one face and was purchased in 1997 from noted meteorite expert, collector, and dealer Allan Lang of R.A. Langheinrich Meteorites and it has remained in a private collection until now. This lot is presented with its original Riker mount (display box) along with its R.A. Langheinrich Meteorites identification card, giving this rare and desirable 1911 find impeccable provenance.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.