The BepiColombo Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer: Science Goals, Instrument Performance and Operations

Bunce E.J., Martindale A., Lindsay S., Muinonen K., Rothery D.A., Pearson J., McDonnell I., Thomas C., Thornhill J., Tikkanen T., Feldman C., Huovelin J., Korpela S., Esko E., Lehtolainen A., Treis J., Majewski P., Hilchenbach M., Väisänen T., Luttinen A., Kohout T., Penttilä A., Bridges J., Joy K.H., Alcacera-Gil M.A.,. Alibert G, Anand M., Bannister N., Barcelo-Garcia C., Bicknell C., Blake O., Bland P., Butcher G., Cheney A., Christensen U., Crawford T., Crawford I.A., Dennerl K., Dougherty M., Drumm P., Fairbend R., Genzer M., Grande M., Hall G.P., Hodnett R., Houghton P., Imber S., Kallio E., Lara M.L., Balado Margeli A., Mas-Hesse M.J., Maurice S., Milan S., Millington-Hotze P., Nenonen S., Nittler L., Okada T., Ormö J., Perez-Mercader J., Poyner R., Robert E., Ross D., Pajas-Sanz M., Schyns E., Seguy J., Strüder L., Vaudon N., Viceira-Martín J., Williams H., Willingale D., Yeoman T. The BepiColombo Mercury Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer: Science Goals, Instrument Performance and Operations. Space Sci Rev 216, 126 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00750-2

The Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer is a highly novel instrument that is designed to map Mercury’s elemental composition from orbit at two angular resolutions. By observing the fluorescence X-rays generated when solar-coronal X-rays and charged particles interact with the surface regolith, MIXS will be able to measure the atomic composition of the upper ∼10-20 μm of Mercury’s surface on the day-side. Through precipitating particles on the night-side, MIXS will also determine the dynamic interaction of the planet’s surface with the surrounding space environment.

MIXS is composed of two complementary elements: MIXS-C is a collimated instrument which will achieve global coverage at a similar spatial resolution to that achieved (in the northern hemisphere only – i.e. ∼ 50 – 100 km) by MESSENGER; MIXS-T is the first ever X-ray telescope to be sent to another planet and will, during periods of high solar activity (or intense precipitation of charged particles), reveal the X-ray flux from Mercury at better than 10 km resolution. The design, performance, scientific goals and operations plans of the instrument are discussed, including the initial results from commissioning in space.

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