Welcome to the SMILE mission pages.

SMILE - Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer

SMILE is a joint mission being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). It is S2 on the ESA small missions programme (S1 being CHEOPS). SMILE is due for launch in late 2021. SMILE will study the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetosphere. SMILE will gather remote-sensing (X-ray) measurements of Earth's magnetospheric cusps, magnetopause, and bow shock, while also providing simultaneous auroral imaging (UV) of Earth, and coordinated in situ measurements (plasma and magnetic). These data will complement and build on the localised data provided by existing ground- and space-based observatories, including ESA's Cluster and Swarm missions, and NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS).

University of Leicester Involvement

The University of Leicester is the Principal Investigator (PI) institute of the Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) instrument on SMILE. The SXI PI is Dr. Steven Sembay. The SXI is a multi-national collaboration involving several UK, European, US and Chinese institutions.

Our roles and responsibilities up to launch include:

  • Management of the SXI project
  • Development, production and calibration of the SXI optic
  • Development and production of the instrument primary structure
  • Development and production of the instrument electrical harnesses
  • Integration and test of the instrument
  • Management of the development of the instrument ground system software
  • Lead of the end-to-end instrument calibration

The SXI instrument

The SXI employs micropore optic (MPO) technology to enable wide-field of imaging of the primary science target, soft X-rays produced by the interaction of heavy ions in the solar wind with neutral particles in the Earth's exosphere. MPO based optics have been used previously in the MIXS instrument (PI: Emma Bunce, University of Leicester) on BepiColombo.

Click here for further information on the SXI instrument.


Share this page:


No current announcements.

Mars Science Laboratory Blog

Find out the latest news about Mars Science Laboratory in Professor John Bridges' Mars Science Laboratory Blog.