- MAIN JOB: To measure the chemical makeup of rocks at a very fine scale
- LOCATION: Mounted on the turret at the end of the robotic arm
MASS: Arm-mounted sensor head: Nearly 10 pounds (4.3 kilograms)
Body-mounted electronics: About 6 pounds (2.6 kilograms)
Calibration target: About 0.033 pounds (0.015 kilograms)
- POWER: About 25 watts
VOLUME: Arm-mounted sensor head: approximately 8.5 by 10.5 by 9 inches
(21.5 by 27 by 23 centimeters)
CALIBRATION TARGETS: Diameter of each of four disks:1.9 inches
Pedestal base:15.3 by 1.18 inches
(39 by 30 millimeters)
- DATA RETURN: Approximately 16 megabits per experiment, or about 2 megabytes per day
Did You Know?
Microbes change the texture and chemistry of their environment. Your mouth is one example! Think about the plaque your dentist scrapes off your teeth. That hard stuff is minerals left behind by millions of bacteria. It’s an example of a "biofilm." Biofilms form when a group of microbes stick together to form a surface. You can find biofilms on surfaces everywhere in nature. PIXL can detect signs of biofilms made by microbes in the Martian environment long ago. Rocks can preserve their texture and chemistry.
The Story Behind the Name
PIXL's name refers to "pixel," the smallest digital point in an image. The pixel is at the heart of image processing and digital images, from space telescope pictures to rover "selfies." What makes PIXL special is its focus on some of the tiniest features on Mars! Along with a tip of the hat to its camera, the name "PIXL" also honors the "X" of its X-ray system.
The word "pixel" is a contraction of "picture element." The use of the word "pixel" traces back to research papers written in 1965 by digital imaging pioneer Frederic C. Billingsley of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL is also the home of the PIXL instrument for Mars 2020!