NICER Early Operations and Initial Results

Keith Gendreau (NASA)

The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) was launched in June 2017 to the International Space Station (ISS) where it is studying the transient X-ray sky. NICER consists of a collection of X-ray concentrators, silicon drift detectors, an optical bench and point system that provides a large collection area in the soft (0.2-12 keV) X-ray bandpass. NICER time stamps individual X-ray photons to an absolute precision of better than 100 nanoseconds while providing moderate CCD like energy resolution. Since installation, NICER has observed over 200 celestial targets including neutron stars and other celestial objects. The primary focus of NICER is to understand neutron star structure, dynamics, and energetics. I will describe the instrument, early operations on the ISS, and some initial results. In addition, NICER has demonstrated the use of some millisecond pulsars as navigational beacons. NICER will complete its baseline mission in January 2019. Conditional on the status of its baseline science objectives, NICER will be open to a guest observer program with first round proposals due in mid 2018 for observations beginning in 2019.

Thursday, April 5, 2018