Most minerals happen naturally as crystals. Crystals are made of specific atoms or molecules joined to make distinctive repeating patterns. The crystals that make up many kinds
of minerals are formed deep underground through the interaction of fluid, pressure, and temperature. Some minerals form at or near the surface. You may have seen spectacular mineral samples in museums, but you might not be aware that minerals are everywhere, including in your body.
In any science, it is important to accurately and understandably describe your observations for others. Whether for advancing research or informing the public, communicating your work is critical.
For geologists, this comes down to describing rocks’ colors, patterns, shapes and other features. These features may reveal evidence about the past, clues to their suitability for a construction project, or signs of valuable natural resources hidden within them.
This easy exercise models one of the processes currently being researched at four U.S. universities to enable recovery of iron and other materials found on the Moon to construct an inhabited workstation. Research is being done to perfect magnetic separation techniques to recover iron-bearing minerals from the lunar soil.