Whole Object Name
Satellites and Spacecraft
The Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) instrument is due to arrive at Mercury in 2025 aboard the European Space Agency’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO). The MPO spacecraft, together with the Japanese Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), constitute the BepiColombo mission. This collaboration will be ESA’s first mission to Mercury, the least explored and most extreme of the terrestrial planets. The mission aims to improve our understanding of the planet’s composition, geophysics, atmosphere, magnetosphere and history.
The MIXS instrument is designed to determine the surface composition of the planet by means of fluorescent X-ray spectroscopy. It is a two component instrument. MIXS-T (the larger component) is an X-ray imaging telescope with a narrow field for detailed images of the surface. MIXS-C collects X-rays from a wider field of view, to get an overview of the planet.
MIXS has a companion instrument, the SIXS (Solar Intensity X-ray Spectrometer) being developed by the University of Helsinki, which will perform measurements of X-rays and particles of solar origin. The combination of these instruments will provide details on the elemental composition of the surface layer of Mercury. The instruments were named by the Finnish collaborators and the names have a hidden meaning: MIXS is Finnish for 'Why'? SIXS is Finnish for 'That's Why!'