The NICER payload, blanketed and waiting for launch in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The instrument is in its stowed configuration for launch.
The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is a NASA Explorer Mission of Opportunity dedicated to studying the extraordinary environments — strong gravity, ultra-dense matter, and the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe — embodied by neutron stars. An attached payload aboard the International Space Station, NICER will deploy an instrument with unique capabilities for timing and spectroscopy of fast X-ray brightness fluctuations. The embedded Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology demonstration (SEXTANT) will use NICER data to validate, for the first time in space, technology that exploits pulsars as natural navigation beacons.
Credit: NASA/Goddard/ Keith Gendreau
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