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. 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
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