2017.A.2.5 CubeSAT X-ray Telescope (CubeX) for Elemental Abundance Mapping of Airless Bodies and X-ray Pulsar Navigation


Jaesub Hong (1)
Suzanne Romaine (2)
Almus Kenter (2)
Rebecca Masterson (3)
Larry Nittler (4)

  1. Harvard University, United States of America
  2. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, United States of America
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America
  4. Carnegie Institution Of Washington, United States of America




X-ray Imaging Spectrometer, X-ray Fluorescence, X-ray Pulsar Navigation


The CubeSAT X-ray Telescope (CubeX) is a concept for a 12U planetary soft X-ray (0.2-8 keV) imaging spectrometer, which utilizes Miniature Wolter-I X-ray optics (MiXO) and a combination of X-ray CMOS and SDD sensors for the focal plane.  CubeX will map the surface elemental composition of diverse airless bodies using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), which can help us to understand the formation and evolutionary history of the individual bodies and the workings of the Solar system as a whole.  CubeX will also conduct a feasibility and performance test of X-ray pulsar timing based deep space navigation (XNAV), which can lower operation costs of space navigation and enable autonomous deep space navigation. The first CubeX concept is designed to rideshare to the Moon on a primary mission as a secondary spacecraft that will be inserted into a high-altitude lunar orbit (4000 x 6000 km). High resolution imaging enabled by MiXO in CubeX allows flexible observing conditions from relatively stable elliptical polar lunar orbits. CubeX will study >8 key regions (~35-140 km) of geological interest on the Moon for a year to produce a high resolution (~0.6-2.3 km) elemental abundance map of each region. The novel focal plane design of CubeX also allows us to conduct delta-correction using the Crab pulsar and PSR B1937+21, and evaluate the performance of absolute navigation by sequential observations of several millisecond pulsars during the dark side of the orbits. (This work is supported by NASA grant NNX16AL75G)


  • Will be made available for download after the workshop

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