Fuel for Thought

  • XOS heads to Mars with NASA on 2020 Perseverance Rover

XOS heads to Mars with NASA on 2020 Perseverance Rover

Aug 14 2020

Men, women, and children across the world woke up early on July 30th, 2020 and tuned in to watch the launch of the 2020 Perseverance Rover at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover successfully rocketed into space around 7:50am EST, marking the beginning of its trip to Mars, where it is slated to land in February of 2021.

XOS proudly plays a key role in the greater mission, supplying the rover with a custom polycapillary X-ray focusing optic to be used for micro-X-ray fluorescence (micro-XRF). Micro-XRF will be used to measure compositions of various chemical elements in rocks, soils, and more on the red planet.

The Micro-XRF instrument on the Perseverance, called PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), is mounted at the end of the rover’s robotic arm and houses the XOS polycapillary optic. PIXL, in conjunction with another six instruments on the rover, will work to search for and hopefully discover evidence of past life on Mars.

In addition to the application of elemental mapping in the search for evidence of past life on Mars, Micro-XRF is also used in applications such as plating thickness, forensics, and cultural heritage. Its non-destructive nature and minimal sample preparation make it ideal for sensitive elemental analysis applications. The use of polycapillary optics has dramatically increased the analytical speed of micro-XRF analysis, supplying accurate and reliable measurement results thousands of times faster than conventional approaches.


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