NEXT GENERATION PLANETARY IN-SITU XRD/XRF INSTRUMENT
eXaminart LLC was awarded a NASA SBIR Phase II grant to develop a next-generation of planetary crystallographic instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis.
This new development will result in CheMinX, an in-situ X-Ray Diffraction and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRD/XRF) instrument suitable for a broad range of planetary surface explorations including smaller rovers and lander. The 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 Phase II targets a development to TRL 4/5.
The four major improvements of over CheMin (MSL) are:
- improved XRD resolution, quantitative XRF capability,
- a much reduced volume, and,
- a broader field of application including Small Bodies.
eXaminart was selected for this R&D for its unique experience and capability to develop new technology for smaller more capable planetary instruments.
The rover picture illustrates a possible use of CheMinX in a small Mars rover (MER size), in combination with a compact sample collection and delivery system under development in collaboration with Honeybee Robotics (micro-sampling drill). The conceptual design of the instrument illustrates a very compact design that can fit numerous platforms.
Sample Collection and delivery
Primary partners in this research
- Baja Technology LLC (USA, AZ)
- Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation (USA, CA)
 Sarrazin, P., Bristow, T. F., Blake, D. F., et al. (2019). “CheMinX: A Next Generation XRD/XRF for Mars Exploration.” LPI, abstract 2236.
 Zacny, K., Paulsen, G., Chu, P., Hedlund, M., Spring, J., Osborne, L., … & Indyk, S. (2013). Axel rover NanoDrill and PowderDrill: Acquisition of cores, regolith and powder from steep walls. In 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference (pp. 1-11). IEEE, Big Sky, Montana, March 2-9.