|Citation:||Sembay, S., Alme, A. L., Agnolon, D., Arnold, T., Beardmore, A., Belén Balado Margeli, A., Bicknell, C., Bouldin, C., Branduardi-Raymont, G., … Yang, S. (2024). The Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) on the SMILE Mission. Earth Planet. Phys., 8(1), 1–10. doi: 10.26464/epp2023067|
The Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) is part of the scientific payload of the Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) mission. SMILE is a joint science mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and is due for launch in 2025. SXI is a compact X-ray telescope with a wide field-of-view (FOV) capable of encompassing large portions of Earth’s magnetosphere from the vantage point of the SMILE orbit. SXI is sensitive to the soft X-rays produced by the Solar Wind Charge eXchange (SWCX) process produced when heavy ions of solar wind origin interact with neutral particles in Earth’s exosphere. SWCX provides a mechanism for boundary detection within the magnetosphere, such as the position of Earth’s magnetopause, because the solar wind heavy ions have a very low density in regions of closed magnetic field lines. The sensitivity of the SXI is such that it can potentially track movements of the magnetopause on timescales of a few minutes and the orbit of SMILE will enable such movements to be tracked for segments lasting many hours. SXI is led by the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (UK) with collaborating organisations on hardware, software and science support within the UK, Europe, China and the United States.