Eli5: X-ray fluorescence


The Perserverance [rover](https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/) has an instrument that measures X-ray fluorescence. What is that?

In: Technology

You shoot x rays as a thing, the thing absorbs it, and shoots x rays back in a different pattern and then you can measure that battery and compare it to other patterns you know so you can get what materials and elements the thing is made of

This is works because x rays are strong enough to knock the electrons in the atoms and “speed th up” after a while these electrons will “slow” back down and the X-rays get spat out, but since some energy is lost, they will be different and detectable

Fluorescence is when you shine a light at an object, the object absorbs that light, and then shines back light at a different frequency. For example, black light paint absorbs ultraviolet light and shines back visible light.

The PIXL device on the Perseverance rover shines x-rays at the target and then records what light shines back. The exact wavelength of the light that comes back can tell us what it’s made of.