Artist concept of NICER aboard the ISS
Mission type Neutron star astrophysics
Operator NASA / GSFC / MIT
Mission duration Planned: 18 months
Start of mission
Launch date Planned: December 2016 (2016-12)
Rocket Falcon 9
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-41, Florida, U.S.
Contractor SpaceX
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 400 km (250 mi)[1]
Apogee 400 km (250 mi)[1]
Inclination 51.6°[1]
Period 92.6 min[1]
Epoch October 2015 (ISS)[1]
X-ray Timing Instrument (XTI)

The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) is a future NASA Explorers program Mission of Opportunity dedicated to the study of the extraordinary gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear physics environments embodied by neutron stars, exploring the exotic states of matter where density and pressure are higher than in atomic nuclei. 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.[2] NICER will achieve these goals by deploying, following launch in December 2016, an X-ray timing and spectroscopy instrument as an attached payload aboard the International Space Station (ISS). NICER was selected by NASA to proceed to formulation phase in April 2013.[3]

An enhancement to the NICER mission, the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT), will act as a technology demonstrator for X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV) techniques that may one day be used for deep-space navigation.[4]

As of May 2015, NICER was on track for a 2016 launch, having passed its critical design review and resolved an issue with the power being supplied by the ISS.[5] The mission is scheduled to launch with the SpaceX CRS-12 ISS resupply mission aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The June 28, 2015, Falcon 9 launch failure affected the entire Falcon 9 manifest,[6] making the ultimate launch date for NICER uncertain.[7]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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External links

  • NICER website at