The mercury imaging X-ray spectrometer (MIXS) on bepicolombo
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The Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) on the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will measure fluorescent X-ray emission from the surface of Mercury in the energy range 0.5–7.5 keV, which is induced by incident solar X-rays and solar wind electrons and protons. These X-rays will reveal the elemental composition of the surface of Mercury and aid the determination of the planet's evolution. MIXS is a two component instrument. A collimated channel (MIXS-C) provides measurements on scales of 70–270 km, sufficient to separate the major Mercurian terrains. A second channel (MIXS-T) is the first imaging X-ray telescope for planetary remote sensing and will make measurements on spatial scales of less than 10 km for major elements during solar flares, sufficient to isolate surface landforms, such as craters and their internal structures. The spatial resolution achieved by MIXS-T is made possible by novel, low mass microchannel plate X-ray optics, in a Wolter type I optical geometry. MIXS measurements of surface elemental composition will help determine rock types, the evolution of the surface and ultimately a probable formation process for the planet. In this paper we present MIXS and its predicted performance at Mercury as well as discussing the role that MIXS measurements will play in answering the major questions about Mercury.
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