Science is constantly revealing new information about the natural world, and it did just that as scientists announced the discovery of two minerals that have never been identified in nature before. While analyzing a meteorite that was found in Somalia in 2020, astronomers found the signature of two minerals that had only ever been produced in laboratories, and have never been observed in nature before. The new minerals are called elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first is named after the meteorite itself, called the El Ali meteorite, while the second is named after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist in an upcoming mission to send a probe to analyze a mineral rich asteroid.
While the meteorite was found in Somalia in 2020, a section of the rock was sent to the University of Alberta in Canada for analysis. There, Dr Chris Herd found the signature of two minerals that had only ever been produced synthetically in laboratories. While finding new minerals may not seem overly significant, there are a couple notable reasons why a discovery such as this is very significant. First, since minerals are often used in technology, the discovery of entirely new minerals could have a significant impact on the development of new technology. There could potentially be hundreds of applications for developing new technology using these new minerals. Furthermore, by finding entirely new minerals within meteorites, scientists could potentially uncover more evidence for how asteroids form, which in turn could lead to new findings about the history and origin of our entire solar system. Further analysis will be required to learn more about these minerals, yet unfortunately, the meteorite is rumoured to have been sold to a buyer, something that is quite common for meteorites as they are extremely rare forms of rock. If this is the case, it could mean that no further analysis of the meteorite will be performed, yet scientists may still uncover other rocks that contain the new minerals. Furthermore, future missions to asteroids in space may also reveal more of these new minerals.