(for other entries in the Chemistry in Space series, click here)
The below picture is of sodium chloride crystals. I’ve made them dozens of times in left over aqueous layers that have been in my hood so long that all the water evaporated.
Crystalline sodium chloride is one of my favorite crystals to grow. Very easy (although it takes a while), the crystals can get quite large and beautiful. And they have the characteristic X running through them. Especially awesome to me, because I did my undergrad at Xavier University. It’s nice to know that even my chemistry loves XU
What makes this picture so cool, though, is the crystals were grown in space. The picture is from NASA’s Image of the Day. The crew aboard the International Space Station‘s Destiny lab grew the crystals in a water bubble as part of the program to do chemistry in space. From NASA:
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.
Space has long fascinated me, and I’ve been trying to get the info and motivation to start a miniseries on chemistry in space. So I guess today’s IotD is a good way to begin. Stay tuned over the next several weeks to hear more about awesome chemistry in space!