Solar Intensity X-ray and particle Spectrometer (SIXS)

J. Huovelin, R. Vainio, H. Andersson, E. Valtonen, L. Alha, A. Mälkki, M. Grande, G.w. Fraser, M. Kato, H. Koskinen, K. Muinonen, J. Näränen, W. Schmidt, M. Syrjäsuo, M. Anttila, T. Vihavainen, E. Kiuru, M. Roos, J. Peltonen, J. LehtiM. Talvioja, P. Portin, M. Prydderch

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22 Citations (SciVal)


The Solar Intensity X-ray and particle Spectrometer (SIXS) on the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will investigate the direct solar X-rays, and energetic protons and electrons which pass the Spacecraft on their way to the surface of Mercury. These measurements are vitally important for understanding quantitatively the processes that make Mercury's surface glow in X-rays, since all X-rays from Mercury are due to interactions of the surface with incoming highly energetic photons and space particles. The X-ray emission of Mercury's surface will be analysed to understand its structure and composition. SIXS data will also be utilised for studies of the solar X-ray corona, flares, solar energetic particles, and the magnetosphere of Mercury, and for providing information on solar eruptions to other BepiColombo instruments.

SIXS consists of two detector subsystems. The X-ray detector system includes three identical GaAs PIN detectors which measure the solar spectrum at 1–20 keV energy range, and their combined field-of-view covers ∼1/4 of the whole sky. The particle detector system consists of an assembly including a cubic central CsI(Tl) scintillator detector with five of its six surfaces covered by a thin Si detector, which together perform low-resolution particle spectroscopy with a rough angular resolution over a field-of-view covering ∼1/4 of the whole sky. The energy range of detected particle spectra is 0.1–3 MeV for electrons and 1–30 MeV for protons.
A major task for the SIXS instrument is the measurement of solar X-rays on the dayside of Mercury's surface to enable modeling of X-ray fluorescence and scattering on the planet's surface. Since highly energetic particles are expected to also induce a significant amount of X-ray emission via particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and bremsstrahlung when they are absorbed by the solid surface of the planet Mercury, SIXS performs measurements of fluxes and spectra of protons and electrons. SIXS performs particle measurement at all orbital phases of the MPO as the particle radiation can occur also on the night side of Mercury.

The energy ranges, resolutions, and timings of X-ray and particle measurements by SIXS have been adjusted to match with the requirements for interpretation of data from Mercury's surface, to be performed by utilising the data of the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS), which will measure X-ray emission from the surface.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-107
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2010


  • Planet Mercury
  • bepicolombo
  • solar x-rays
  • protons
  • electrons
  • instrumentation


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