The X-ray spectrometer on the MESSENGER spacecraft

Charles E. Schlemm, Richard D. Starr, George C. Ho, Kathryn E. Bechtold, Sarah A. Hamilton, John D. Boldt, William V. Boynton, Walter Bradley, Martin E. Fraeman, Robert E. Gold, John O. Goldsten, John R. Hayes, Stephen E. Jaskulek, Egidio Rossano, Robert A. Rumpf, Edward D. Schaefer, Kim Strohbehn, Richard G. Shelton, Raymond E. Thompson, Jacob I. TrombkaBruce D. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


NASA's MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission will further the understanding of the formation of the planets by examining the least studied of the terrestrial planets, Mercury. During the one-year orbital phase (beginning in 2011) and three earlier flybys (2008 and 2009), the X-Ray Spectrometer (XRS) onboard the MESSENGER spacecraft will measure the surface elemental composition. XRS will measure the characteristic X-ray emissions induced on the surface of Mercury by the incident solar flux. The Kα lines for the elements Mg, Al, Si, S, Ca, Ti, and Fe will be detected. The 12° field-of-view of the instrument will allow a spatial resolution that ranges from 42 km at periapsis to 3200 km at apoapsis due to the spacecraft's highly elliptical orbit. XRS will provide elemental composition measurements covering the majority of Mercury's surface, as well as potential high-spatial-resolution measurements of features of interest. This paper summarizes XRS's science objectives, technical design, calibration, and mission observation strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-415
Number of pages23
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Elemental composition
  • Mercury
  • Surface composition
  • X-ray emissions
  • X-ray spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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