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"[Science fiction] has become big business, where books are merchandised and promoted and distributed and placed on sale like slabs of bacon or cans of soup."
- Frederik Pohl

X Gun (X-Beam Projector)  
  A device that projected soft x-rays into small planetoids to determine their composition.  

So you're out out Saturn-way, looking for mineral deposits in the small bodies ringing the gas giant. What would you use to check to see if a given planetoid was worthwhile?

As the pencil of soft x-rays, under the guidance of his skilled hand, probed into the twenty-foot planetoid, its reflections trembled ghostily in the milk-luminous chart...

Osgood rotated the handle of the X-beam projector, the "X gun," with the expertness of a machine gunner, and read the fluctuating, melting Fraunhofer designs out of the corner of his eye.

From Diamond Planetoid, by Gordon A. Giles.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1937
Additional resources -

What's more, this ship was equipped with a special converter that meant you didn't need to interpret some sort of crystallography design, either. Read up on the spectroscopic robot converter.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Diamond Planetoid
  More Ideas and Technology by Gordon A. Giles
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  Tech news articles related to works by Gordon A. Giles

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