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XOS heads to Mars

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

On 30 July 2020, the 2020 Perseverance Rover was launched at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

XOS heads to Mars

The rover successfully rocketed into space around 7:50 am EST, marking the beginning of its trip to Mars, where it is slated to land in February 2021.

XOS played 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.

Visit for more information on micro-XRF, polycapillary optics, and XOS’ part in Perseverance’s mission.

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