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The Power of Polycapillary Optics & Their Critical Role in Seeking Life on Mars

XOS on Mars!

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a commonly-used technique for elemental analysis and is non-destructive, easy to use, and requires minimal sample preparation when compared to alternative technologies. Micro-XRF applies the same principles as XRF, but on a much smaller (micro) scale. The use of polycapillary optics has completely changed the analytical speed and accuracy of micro-XRF analysis, supplying accurate and reliable measurement results in just hours, compared to the days-long wait of conventional approaches. Polycapillary optics can be used in many applications, including plating thickness, forensics, cultural heritage, and elemental mapping— such as on the Mars 2020 rover, where an XOS polycapillary optic will play a critical role in the search for past life on Mars after it lands in 2021.

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