A new mission, the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), is headed for the International Space Station (@iss) next month to observe one of the strangest observable objects in the universe.
May 28 | 2017
Launching aboard SpaceX's CRS-11 commercial resupply mission, NICER will be installed aboard the orbiting laboratory as the first mission dedicated to studying neutron stars, a type of collapsed star that is so dense scientists are unsure how matter behaves deep inside it. In this photo, NICER’s X-ray concentrator optics are inspected under a black light for dust and foreign object debris that could impair functionality once in space. The payload’s 56 mirror assemblies concentrate X-rays onto silicon detectors to gather data that will probe the interior makeup of neutron stars, including those that appear to flash regularly, called pulsars. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Keith Gendreau