We propose to develop an in-situ X-ray imaging instrument to analyze core samples on the surface of a planet or planetesimal. The instrument will also serve as an X-ray computer tomography (XCT) instrument and X-ray spectrometer to map the chemical composition of the surface of the rock core when its surface is not shielded by an opaque container. The instrument will rely on a coring drill to collect and deliver the core sample. Several deployment scenarios are envisioned: analysis of ice cores that only require moderate acceleration voltage from the X-ray tube, analysis of rock cores bare or sealed in containers for sample-return, for which higher energy radiation is needed. The feasibility of a miniature ice-core XCT using technology readily qualified has been partly demonstrated in a preliminary study, the Phase I research will complete this task and demonstrate a proof-of-concept instrument. The engineering requirements of a rock core XCT will be investigated and compared to technology available for flight, especially with regard to high voltage components. The Phase II technical focus will depend on these findings.
Analysis of ice cores of the Mars Polar Layered Deposits to read Mars climatic records.
Analysis of rock cores for robotic in-situ science missions for astrobiology and geoscience.
On-board analysis of rock cores sealed in canisters for sample-return, including on a Mars fetch-rover to analyze cores collected by the Mars 2020 rover and help assess best candidates for return to Earth.
On-board Space Station research instrument for the study of multiphase materials in microgravity.
Miniature X-ray tomography instrument for field applications.
Portable applications for cultural heritage materials that cannot leave their country, excavation site or museum.
Portable or robotic application for analysis of small objects for forensics, defense, homeland security, border control.