Close-up View of Neutron Star Mission’s X-Ray Concentrator Optics.
A new NASA mission, the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), is headed for the International Space Station next month to observe one of the strangest observable objects in the universe.
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.
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.
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Keith Gendreau