Estimates of in-flight calibration source activities for the SIXS X-ray detectors on board BepiColombo

Arto Lehtolainen, Juhani Huovelin, Lauri Sakari Alha, Tuomo Tikkanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The Solar Intensity X-ray and particle Spectrometer (SIXS) instrument on the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter consists of three X-ray detectors and a particle detector system. The X-ray detectors must be calibrated repeatedly during the BepiColombo mission due to the variable conditions in orbit
around Mercury by measuring the spectrum of a known calibration source between observations. The calibration sources of the SIXS X-ray detectors are placed inside each detector assembly. The placement, design and activity of the calibration sources must be carefully optimized since the sources are within the field of view at all times. The primary motive for the present study was to find the best design alternative for the on board calibration sources of the SIXS X-ray detectors.
The calibration sources of the SIXS detectors consist of titanium coated 55Fe. Two different options for the source placement were considered and Ruby0s formula for a parallel-disk source and detector system was used, in addition to the analytical examination of the attenuation and fluorescence of X-rays inside the Ti-coating, to estimate the calibration signal for each option. Given the complexity of the source–detector geometry, approximations were required for the analytical estimations of the attenuation and fluorescence. Two different approximations were applied to each source–detector configuration. Monte-Carlo simulation program was also developed to estimate the SIXS calibration signal more accurately as well as to provide means to estimate the signal in more general source–detector systems. The Monte-Carlo simulation results of each source–detector configuration were consistent with the results of the analytical calculations. The optimal activity, dimensions and placement of the SIXS calibration sources as well as the optimal thickness of the Ti-coating were determined from the simulation results in co-operation with Oxford Instruments Analytical Ltd. On the basis of the results, the design with the radiation source above the aperture stop was adopted for the SIXS X-ray detectors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment
Issue number636
Pages (from-to)48-60
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 115 Astronomy, Space science

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