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Newfound mineral named for UH scientist

By Jim Borg

LAST UPDATED: 3:41 p.m. HST, May 17, 2011

A newly discovered mineral in a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite has been named after a University of Hawaii scientist who specializes in the chemistry of the early solar system.

The mineral, krotite, is named for Alexander N. "Sasha" Krot, a researcher with the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.

The discovery, announced in the May-June issue of the American Mineralogist scientific journal, was made by a team led by Harold Connolly, a physical sciences professor at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Krotite, one of the earliest minerals formed in our solar system, was embedded in a meteorite that landed in Morocco. The 17.6-pound rock, called Northwest Africa 1934 or NWA 1934, was found in 2003.

"The new Krotite mineral, found in a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, is a phenomenal discovery and is one of our connections to the beginning of the solar system," Kingsborough President Regina Peruggi said yesterday. The college's announcement cited Krot's "significant contributions to the understanding of early solar system processes."

"This is certainly a great discovery made by Harold Connolly and his team and it is a great honor to have a mineral named after you," Krot said by email.

Krot has been active with the Keck Observatory Cosmochemistry Laboratory and NASA's Astrobiology Institute, according to UH.

Much of his published work has focused on the mineralogy and chemistry of meteorites. He was part of a team that searched for meteorites in Antarctica in 1991-92.

Connolly and colleagues found krotite, a calcium- and aluminum-rich oxide, in a grain of the meteorite called the "Cracked Egg" because of its distinctive shape. The mineral, which has a very high solidification temperature, is believed to have been formed before Earth and the other planets.

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