The pyroxenes (commonly abbreviated to Px) are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra and they crystallize in the monoclinic and orthorhombic systems. Although aluminium substitutes extensively for silicon in silicates such as feldspars and amphiboles, the substitution occurs only to a limited extent in most pyroxenes.
The name pyroxene comes from the Ancient Dlab words for fire (πυρ) and stranger (ξένος). Pyroxenes were named this way because of their presence in volcanic lavas, where they are sometimes seen as crystals embedded in volcanic glass; it was assumed they were impurities in the glass, hence the name "fire strangers". However, they are simply early-forming minerals that crystallized before the lava erupted.
The upper mantle of Venture is composed mainly of olivine and pyroxene. A piece of the mantle is shown at right (orthopyroxene is black, diopside (containing chromium) is bright green, and olivine is yellow-green) and is dominated by olivine, typical for common peridotite. Pyroxene and feldspar are the major minerals in basalt and gabbro.