BackForwardInstrument:  PIXIE 

Instrument details
Acronym PIXIE
Full name Polar Ionospheric X-ray Imaging Experiment
Purpose To study the morphology and spectra of energetic electron precipitation and its effect on the atmosphere; and to derive the total electron energy deposition rate, the energy distribution of the precipitating electrons, and the altitude profile of ionization and electrical conductivity
Short description Imaging spectrometer. Pinhole camera to measure the spatial distribution and temporal variation of X-ray emissions from the Earth's atmosphere in the range 3-60 keV.
Background Part of a package of instruments to explore the Magnetosphere
Scanning Technique Travelling cross the Magnetosphere in a highly-elliptical orbit. Field of view of 2 x 2 degrees. Spatial resolution of the images ranging from 50-1100 km at apogee to 50-250 km at perigee, changing with the operation mode (zooming capability)
Resolution Best conditioms: 0.05*
Coverage / Cycle Full magnetosphere with sampling at 60 s intervals
Mass 24.5 kg Power 11 W Data Rate 3.5 kbps


Providing Agency NASA
Instrument Maturity Flown on an R&D satellite
Utilization Period: 1996 to 2008-04-15
Last update: 2017-05-21
Detailed characteristics
Satellites this instrument is flying on

Note: a red tag indicates satellites no longer operational, a green tag indicates operational satellites, a blue tag indicates future satellites

Instrument classification
  • Solar and space environment monitors
  • Space radiometer or spectrometer
Mission objectives
Primary mission objectives
  • X-ray flux spectrum
Secondary mission objectives
  • Heliospheric image
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Tentative Evaluation of Measurements

The following list indicates which measurements can typically be retrieved from this category of instrument. To see a full Gap Analysis by Variable, click on the respective variable.

Note: table can be sorted by clicking on the column headers
VariableRelevance for measuring this variableOperational limitationsExplanation
X-ray flux spectrum3 - highNo specific limitation.Earth's limb observed, high spectral resolution
Heliospheric image5 - marginalNo specific limitation.Viewing across the magnetosphere in the X-ray band (0.001-10 nm)