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© Cyril FRESILLON/CBM/CNRS Photothèque
Komatiite, a volcanic rock, and spinifex texture discovered in the Komati River, in Barberton, South Africa. This 20-cm rock, similar to a rock of Martian origin, dates back 3400 million years. It belongs to ISAR (International Space Analogue Rockstore), a unique collection of rocks similar to those found on Mars, kept at the Molecular Biophysics Centre (CBM) in Orleans. Comprising some fifty rocks, ISAR is used to test and calibrate certain space probe instruments, particularly for the study of traces of life on Mars. The collection contains volcanic and sedimentary rocks prepared in several forms: complete rocks, thin slices or rock powders.