The innovative technology that will explore planet Mercury in unprecedented detail

Leicester researchers will be showcasing the innovative space instrument they have developed which will be used to help provide the most complete exploration and study of the planet Mercury to date at the Farnborough Airshow on Friday 20 July.

The Mercury Imaging X-ray spectrometer (MIXS) instrument is the first imaging X-ray instrument to visit another planetary body. It will observe the surface of Mercury from the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter, which is scheduled to launch in October 2018, in order to determine the surface composition and the complex interaction between Mercury and its environment.

The Leicester team will be attending the Farnborough Airshow’s Futures Day on Friday 20 July where they will be showcasing the research behind a ¼ scale 3D print of the MIXS instrument and speaking to members of the public about the importance of understanding the planets in our Solar System – and how we can apply this knowledge to our own planet.

"This is a very exciting time for us at the University of Leicester, as we wait for the launch of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury," says Professor Emma Bunce, who is the University of Leicester Principal Investigator on the BepiColombo mission. "This spacecraft carries our Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS) with it as part of its scientific payload. The data from our instrument and from the wider payload will revolutionise our understanding of Mercury. I look forward to sharing our excitement around this mission at the Futures Day, and encourage the next generation of scientists to come and work with us on the data in 2025!”


Dr Suzie Imber, who last year won BBC Two’s ‘Astronauts: Have You Got What It Takes?’, will be joining the Year of Engineering team at the Farnborough Airshow to help with their government-supported campaign to promote engineering during 2018. During the event, Suzie and other inspiring individuals working within the space industry will be speaking with astronaut Tim Peake, who received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Leicester in 2016.

Suzie said: “Working with young people is an immensely rewarding experience and I want to highlight the range of skills that the space sector will require in the upcoming decades, from law-makers to programmers, scientists to architects.  I’m hoping to inspire young people to be interested in science through showing them some of the adventures that my career has enabled me to experience.”

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed at the Farnborough Airshow earlier this week by the University of Leicester, together with the Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) and the National Space Centre to formally mark the start of the collaborative links with the region of Piemonte in Italy and the Polytechnic University of Turin.