The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer: An X-ray Astrophysics Facility Dedicated to Neutron Star Science

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Zaven Arzoumanian (C)


The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is a recently-approved NASA Explorer Mission of Opportunity dedicated to the study of the extraordinary gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear-physics environments embodied by neutron stars. Planned for launch in 2016, the NICER mission consists of an X-ray timing and spectroscopy instrument deployed on the International Space Station, with a baseline 18-month lifetime and a proposed 6-month-minimum Guest Observer program. NICER will enable rotation-resolved spectroscopy of the thermal and non-thermal emissions of neutron stars in the soft (0.2–12 keV) X-ray band with unprecedented sensitivity, probing interior structure, the origins of dynamic phenomena, and the mechanisms that underlie the most powerful cosmic particle accelerators known. We describe NICER's key science objectives, measurement capabilities, and essential design elements.

Primary author


Dr Keith Gendreau (NASA-GSFC)

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