The PIXL instrument onboard the Mars 2020 Rover: an overview of the instrument, its capabilities, and first results obtained from in-situ exploration of the floor of Jezero Crater, Mars

Haskin Memorial Lecture delivered by Joel Hurowitz, Associate Professor of Geosciences, Stony Brook University

The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) is a micro-focus X-ray fluorescence spectrometer mounted on the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance rover (Allwood et al., 2021). To date, the PIXL instrument has performed 5 high-resolution mapping scans on 4 rock targets representative of the “Crater Floor Fractured Rough” map unit of Sun and Stack (2020) during the Mars 2020 rover’s traverse across the floor of Jezero crater. Designed to provide fully quantitative XRF mapping capability with a 120-micron resolution for geological investigation and sample characterization, PIXL has performed all of its scans flawlessly, allowing texture, geochemistry, and derived mineralogy to be tied together at the sub-mm scale. I will discuss the PIXL instrument, aspects of its design and capabilities, geochemical and petrologic results derived from the first PIXL scans on Mars and implications for the origin and modification history of rocks from the floor units of Jezero crater.

Host: Jeff Catalano

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