This research targets the development of a next-generation crystallographic instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis. CheMinX is an in-situ X-Ray Diffraction and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRD/XRF) instrument suitable for a range of planetary surface explorations including Discovery-class missions and MER class rovers. This instrument will provide quantitative mineralogy and elemental chemistry from rocks and soil samples on Mars, the Moon, Venus, or other rocky or icy bodies, including Small Bodies like asteroids, comets, and smaller moons. This SBIR addresses critical improvements in technology compared to the CheMin XRD instrument on MSL, to enable a smaller more capable planetary instrument. The four major improvements of CheMinX over CheMin are improved XRD resolution, improved XRF performance, a much-reduced volume, and a broader field of application including Small Bodies. This SBIR Phase I+II targets the development of CheMinX to TRL 4/5.
This work inherits from 20+ years of development of advanced XRD systems for planetary and commercial applications by the PI and his collaborators.
Deployment of XRD or XRD/XRF instrument on rocky planets, moons, and Small Bodies as part of a landed mission with an emphasis on surface mineralogy and chemistry.
Remote XRD/XRF analysis of confined samples with a robotic instrument inside a sample curation chamber.
Planetary analog field research.
Next generation of small portable and benchtop XRD/XRF instruments for manual or robotic applications in field and laboratory research and industries such as mining, petroleum, cement, forensics, homeland security, defense, pharmaceutical, etc.