NASA to Launch First-Ever Mission to Study Neutron Stars
Will the mission focus on pulsars? These neutron stars that seem to wink because their ball sweeps radiation beams beyond us, like a cosmic lighthouse.
Will NICER also test? For the first time in space? Technology based on pulsars as navigation tags.
“The timing of this launch is about,” said Keith Gendreau, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the mission’s development.
Due to their extreme nature, neutron stars and pulsars have generated much interest because their existence was theoretically proposed in 1939 and then discovered in 1967.
Shortly after the 50th anniversary of the discovery of British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell on 25 July, the NICER team should have gathered enough data “to do a bit of splash,” added NICER deputy principal researcher Zaven Arzumanyan.
Neutron stars and pulsars are massive star residues that, after exhausting their nuclear fuel, have exploded and collapsed into superdense spheres.
Just a teaspoon of neutron stars would weigh a billion tons on Earth.
“The nature of matter under these conditions is an unresolved problem of several decades,” Gendreau said.
“Theory has advanced a host of models to describe the physics that governs the interior of neutron stars.” With NICER, we can finally test these theories with accurate observations, “Gendreau said.