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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

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

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