An instrument that will map the entire surface of the Moon and determine the minerals and elements in its rocks is due to be delivered to the European Space Agency (ESA) this week. The D-CIXS instrument is a tiny imaging X-ray spectrometer the size of a toaster and weighing less than 5 kilograms. It will be taken as hand luggage to the ESA’s Estec research and technology centre in the Netherlands on Tuesday 6 August, to be mounted on SMART-1, the first of a new generation of European “smaller, faster, cheaper” spacecraft.

D-CIXS was designed, built and tested by an international team led by CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). Professor Manuel Grande from RAL, the principal investigator of the instrument, has the responsibility of delivering the precious package to ESA, where it will be installed, with other instruments, on the Smart-1 spacecraft.

“Of course I’ll be treating it with great care”, said Professor Grande, “but I’m not too worried. Part of its testing involved vigorous shaking, designed to ensure it will survive the violent launch. A short trip in an aeroplane shouldn’t be a problem for it”.

The Smart-1 satellite is scheduled for launched next February and is the first European spacecraft to travel to, and orbit, the Moon. D-CIXS will be providing the first high-resolution global X-ray map of the Moon, with the relative abundances of the different elements in the lunar surface. Scientists are particularly interested to see if there is a correlation between the rocks on the Moon and those found on Earth, especially establishing the ratio of magnesium and iron. This evidence will give us clues on the origins of the Earth-Moon system, and how the Moon was formed and evolved. Scientists have different theories for this:
* the Moon was formed at the same time as Earth
* the Moon split away from Earth following a large impact on our planet
* the Moon was formed elsewhere in space and ‘captured’ by Earth’s gravity.

D-CIXS will give us the evidence which will help determine the answer.

The D-CIXS instrument incorporates two new technologies. Each of its 24 Swept Charge Device detectors has a 10 x 10mm sensitive area with an energy resolution better than 200eV. They operate at near room temperature and have higher tolerances to damaging radiation than conventional CCDs. The other innovative feature of the spectrometer is its advanced microstructure collimator which ensures that only X-rays from a single, well-defined direction reach the detectors. This has been achieved with metal less than a millimetre thick – in the past such devices would have involved large chunks of metal.
“D-CIXS will not only do great science by mapping the Moon’s entire surface – giving us evidence of its formation, but it will also demonstrate some extremely novel technologies that will be useful for many future missions of discovery”, explained Professor Grande.


The UK-led team includes members from:
* CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK
* University of Helsinki, Finland
* CESR, France
* OMP, France
* Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), Kiruna, Sweden
* University of Sheffield, UK
* Queen Mary and Westfield College, UK
* University College London, UK
* Natural History Museum, London, UK
* Max Planck Institut fur Aeronomie, Lindau, Germany
* Lab for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, USA
* Manchester University, UK
* Armagh Observatory, UK
* ISAS, Japan
* UPC, Spain
* Metorex, Finland

The D-CIXS instrument (Demonstration of a Compact Imaging X-ray Spectrometer) was co-funded by the BNSC (British National Space Centre), the ESA (European Space Agency) and PPARC (Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council). It cost £1.5 million.

Web contacts:

See CCLRC’s website at: for information about the D-CIXS instrument.

For information about ESA’s Smart-1 satellite, see their website at:

Checkout the nine planets website for information about the Moon:

Jacky Hutchinson, CCLRC Press Officer, Tel: 01235 44 6482,
Mob: 07877 55 85 811, Email:

Professor Grande will be available at RAL until lunch-time on Tuesday 6 August. He can be contacted on      Tel: 01235 446501    Email:
while at RAL, or on his mobile thereafter:    Mob: 07770 652547