The NICER Mission: a Partnership in Science and Technology on the ISS


Abstract

  • The Neutron Star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) is an X-ray astrophysics mission of opportunity that will reveal the inner workings of neutron stars, cosmic lighthouses that embody unique gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear-physics environments. NICER achieves this objective by deploying a high-heritage instrument as an attached payload on a zenith-side ExPRESS Logistics Carrier aboard the International Space Station (ISS). NICER offers order-of-magnitude improvements in time-coherent sensitivity and timing resolution beyond the capabilities of any X-ray observatory flown to date. Through a cost-sharing opportunity between the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) NICER will also demonstrate how neutron stars can serve as deep-space navigation beacons to guide humankind out of Earth orbit, to destinations throughout the Solar System and beyond. I will overview the NICER mission, discuss our experience working with the ISS, and describe the process of forging a partnership between SMD and STMD.