The Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR Mission
The Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) is an approved
NASA Explorer Mission of Opportunity dedicated to the study of the
extraordinary gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear-physics
environments embodied by neutron stars. NICER will explore the
exotic states of matter inside these stars, where density and
pressure are higher than in atomic nuclei, confronting theory with
unique observational constraints. NICER will enable
rotation-resolved spectroscopy of the thermal and non-thermal
emissions of neutron stars in the soft (0.2-12 keV) X-ray band with
unprecedented sensitivity, probing interior structure, the origins
of dynamic phenomena, and the mechanisms that underlie the most
powerful cosmic particle accelerators known. NICER achieves these
goals by deploying, following launch in late 2016, an X-ray timing
and spectroscopy instrument as an attached payload aboard the
International Space Station (ISS). Grazing-incidence optics coupled
with silicon drift detectors, actively pointed for a full hemisphere
of sky coverage, will provide photon-counting spectroscopy and
timing registered to GPS time and position, with high throughput and
relatively low background.
In addition to advancing a vital multi-wavelength approach to
neutron star studies through coordination with radio and γ-ray observations, NICER will provide a rapid-response capability for
targeting of transients, continuity in X-ray timing astrophysics
investigations post-RXTE through a proposed Guest Observer program,
and new discovery space in soft X-ray timing science.
Simulated NICER countrates and spectra can be derived using the
WebPIMMS and WebSPEC tools.
A 12-slide overview of NICER science is available here.
More NICER documentation and
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For those interested in general
astronomy/astrophysics information please go to the Education and Public Outreach site.
- NICER Passes Critical Design Review (19 Sep 2014)
NICER unanimously passed its CDR "with flying colors".
- NICER at the HEAD Meeting (17 Aug 2014)
The NICER Special
Session at the 2014 meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division
(HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society will be held on
Wednesday, August 20, at 1:30 pm in the Great Lakes Grand Ballroom
of the Westin Michigan Avenue hotel in Chicago. Please join us!
- NICER Critical Design Review (16 Aug 2014)
NICER's next step towards launch, the Critical Design Review, is planned for September 2014. NICER remains on-track for launch on the SpaceX-12 ISS resupply flight currently scheduled for October 2016.
- Upcoming NICER Presentations Announced (03 Apr 2014)
There will be an overview presentation on the NICER mission design at the SPIE "Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray" conference in Montreal in June, 2014, and NICER science will be the subject of a Special Session at the High-Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) meeting in Chicago in August, 2014.
- Forward to Phase C (31 Mar 2014)
NICER's engineers and scientists have successfully passed several major project milestones, including a Preliminary Design Review by an independent team of experts, an initial Payload Safety Review by an International Space Station (ISS) panel, and a Confirmation Review at NASA HQ. NICER is now in Phase C