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A ’Martian Stone’

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

This mineral was first found in Russia. Its discovery credit could have been assigned to Russian scientists, if the find had been registered properly. In reality, the glory of discoverers was given to German geologists, who even named this mineral after Goethe, a German writer and statesman. He himself, being a collector, did not oppose their decision and approved ’goethite’ as a name for the brand new finding, to which Mars owes its colour.

In ancient mythology, goethite was thought to assist a goddess Hecate in guiding people out of the world of the living into the one of the dead. The magicians of that time believed the mineral could be used for controlling the soul of a dead person. In the pursuit of goethite, those living in the Afterlife were ready to follow any commands from the stone’s owner - all of them, just to touch this mineral.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

Through the use of goethite stone in numerous rituals, people found out it could serve as a source of iron. Pagan priests were accustomed to heating and polishing the samples; and they were the ones to observe the metal reduction process. It is in fact a common belief that this coincidence led to the beginning of the Iron Age. The first to start producing iron en masse were, however, the Hittites, people of Anatolian descent. They were burning goethite with charcoal in stoves to extract the metal.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Горный музей

In the Middle Ages, another use for the mineral was found - a fast colouring pigment made of it became popular among artists and icon painters. Beauty products, coloured fabrics - they all consisted of this pigment. Moreover, decorative cosmetic products made up of goethite are still available on the market even now, in the XXI century. These makeup products are in general more environmental friendly; they are also good for the skin.

As of now, the stone is anticipated to provide the key for solving one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Goethite is one of the minerals that makes up the Martian soil. Many scientists believe some samples of this stone may have preserved traces of life forms who were once inhabiting Mars.

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Фото © Parent Géry

The visual appearance of goethite may somewhat resemble the surface of the farthest planets, with their dead volcanoes and numerous craters. Goethite can even generate electricity. On the other side, the mineral is of no value for jewellers, even though collectible items of goethite are highly valued. The ones of specific attention are its compounds - the specimens of incredible beauty are usually compound minerals, which are composed of goethite and some other elements.