Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Mineral: Halite in Spaaaace!!

From NASA's image of the day gallery, crystals of sodium chloride: table salt, or halite in geo-speak. Technically, I think, this doesn't count as a mineral, since it's man-made. On the other hand, taken as single grains, they would be essentially indistinguishable from "real" halite. As far as I'm concerned, that's the important thing.The description isn't very helpful:
Looking for all the world like a snowflake, this is actually a close up view of sodium chloride crystals. The crystals are in a water bubble within a 50-millimeter metal loop that was part of an experiment in the Destiny laboratory aboard the International Space Station and was photographed by the Expedition 6 crew.
Water crystals, snowflakes, have six-fold symmetry, not four-fold cubic symmetry. What I find kind of cool in the photo is the hopper forms of the crystals. I was taught that this indicated rapid crystallization from an essentially super-saturated solution, at least when you see it in evaporite minerals. Click the link up top to see other size formats.

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