MIX Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer

Client: National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA)

Year:  2007 –2012

After having developed, manufactured and tested the STM (Structural and Thermal Model) and EM (Engineering Model), LIDAX developed the MIXS FPA qualification Model (QM).

This was a Focal Plane Assembly, supporting an X-Ray detector.

Two units of this FPA will be launched as part of ESA’s BepiColombo mission in order to address the following key scientific questions:

• How Mercury was formed
• How Mercury evolved
• How the exosphere and the magnetosphere interact with the solar wind

Those goals will be achieved by exploring the chemical composition of Mercury’s crust and by measuring fluorescent X-Ray emission from the planetary surface, with the aid of X-Ray detectors purposely designed and manufactured by MPE (Max-Planck-Institute Semiconductor Laboratory).

The detector’s performance can only be assured if a low temperature is maintained during the whole mission. For this purpose, the spacecraft is provided with a passive cooling system. This system has limited available cooling power, so parasitic heat loads must be minimized by supporting the detector with a low conductivity Support System. The survival of the Detector Wire Bonding is only guaranteed if a very stiff support is provided.

The whole FPA has been designed around this support system, so that it can be assembled in the MIXS platform as a stand alone system.

DM (Development Model) and Subsystem STM (Structural and Thermal model) and EM (Engineering Model) units have been built and tested in previous phases of the project in order to check the feasibility of the concept. All the tests were performed under LIDAX responsibility and some of them at LIDAX facilities.

These were the tests performed under LIDAX responsibility:

Development Model (DM)

  • Thermal Vacuum Chamber
  • Vibration
  • Static Load Test
  • Life Test

Structural and Thermal Model (STM)

  • TVC
  • Vibration
  • Mass Properties and CoG

Engineering Model (EM)

Electrical Conductivity