Page 24 - WCM 2022 Winter
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 From Mars to Maine
A Journey Like No Other story by Johanna Sorrell, photos courtesy MMGM
 Dr. R. Aileen Yingst connecting with two aspiring young scientists at the Taoudenni 002 unveiling event at the MMGM.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to
be known.”
~ Carl Sagan
Two young girls shyly walk up to the woman dressed in a sharp black blazer. In bright red sequins, the letters “MSL” are emblazoned across the front of her black t-shirt, and the words “Mars Science Laboratory” sit just below, sparkling in gold lettering. She has a bold red streak in her hair, and the girls are hoping to get her autograph. This is Dr. R. Aileen Yingst, a prominent senior research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. Among other extraordinary projects, Dr. Yingst works on the Mars Rovers, and in this moment, she is about to speak with a captive audience about Taoudenni 002, the single largest known Martian meteorite on Earth, which now finds its permanent home at the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM).
The Red Planet has captivated the human imagination for generations, inspiring scientists, artists, explorers, writers, and so many more to ask big questions and wonder aloud about what could be out there in the solar system and beyond. This past August, the MMGM unveiled the largest single piece of the Red Planet known to exist on Earth, creating a rare and unearthly opportunity for visitors to be in the presence of Mars, right here in Maine.
An Unearthly Arrival
Long ago, an asteroid struck the surface of Mars with such incredible force
it dramatically expelled Martian material into outer space. For unknown eons this rocky material traveled through space until, in a moment of almost impossible serendipity, the gravitational pull of Earth’s orbit captured it, and the long journey came to an end as the Martian rock - now a fiery meteorite - plummeted toward Earth’s surface in a blazing ball.
Arts, Entertainment, Adventure and More in Western Maine

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