Mars. The Red Planet. It's one of Earth's close friends and has been the subject of numerous science fiction tales and has been speculated as a refuge of sorts. Well, if we happen to migrate there, we might be able to get our hands on some precious gemstones. Which kind? Opals, of course. This comes from a once rich source of water in the Gale Crater; fractures of which seemed to have opal stones.
Gale Crater Opal
Mars, as you probably know, does not have a known source of liquid water; virtually all of it is in ice, though some exists in the form of vapor. An opal stone has an unusually high water content compared to most stones, which is why finding them on Mars is quite the treat.
Having a Martian opal gemstone would be amazing, and it is not entirely out of the picture. A future expedition could lead to a close examination of one of these prized opals, which could help give more insight on Mars.
In fact, the discovery alone helped provide scientists with more knowledge on the nature of water that likely was once highly prevalent on Mars. This, of course, came with the sum of dozens and dozens of experiments, tests, and observations.
The Gale Crater observation in particular revealed numerous fractures that contained these precious opal stones. The exact nature of how they determined they were opals involved a healthy dose of science. If you're curious, we have linked sources at the bottom of the article that can give a better explanation than we can. We're just here for the cool rocks.
Other Space Stones?
We haven't found other space opals yet, to the best of our knowledge. That doesn't mean they don't exist, of course, and the fact we found a few sources on Mars could mean that planets with a similar set of conditions could have opal gemstones ready to form.
A more famous kind of space gemstone are the space diamonds, such as the "diamond rain" on Neptune and Uranus. A lesser-known example are peridots, which have been found in meteorites.The Wrap Up
In any case, one thing is certain, the beauty of gemstones is not limited to Earth. Extraterrestrial gemstones are simply cool, and sometimes they can reveal a little more about the world.