The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER): design and development

Keith C. Gendreau, Zaven Arzoumanian, Phillip W. Adkins, Cheryl L. Albert, John F. Anders, Andrew T. Aylward, Charles L. Baker, Erin R. Balsamo, William A. Bamford, Suyog S. Benegalrao, Daniel L. Berry, Shiraz Bhalwani, J. Kevin Black, Carl Blaurock, Ginger M. Bronke, Gary L. Brown, Jason G. Budinoff, Jeffrey D. Cantwell, Thoniel Cazeau, Philip T. ChenThomas G. Clement, Andrew T. Colangelo, Jerry S. Coleman, Jonathan D. Coopersmith, William E. Dehaven, John P. Doty, Mark D. Egan, Teruaki Enoto, Terry W. -M. Fan, Deneen M. Ferro, Richard Foster, Nicholas M. Galassi, Luis D. Gallo, Chris M. Green, Dave Grosh, Kong Q. Ha, Munther A. Hassouneh, Kristofer B. Heefner, Phyllis Hestnes, Lisa J. Hoge, Tawanda M. Jacobs, John Leif Jørgensen, Michael A. Kaiser, James W. Kellogg, Steven J. Kenyon, Richard G. Koenecke, Robert P. Kozon, Beverly LaMarr, Mike D. Lambertson, Anne M. Larson, Steven Lentine, Jesse H. Lewis, Mike G. Lilly, Kuochia Alice Liu, Andrew Malonis, Sridhar S. Manthripragada, Craig B. Markwardt, Bryan D. Matonak, Isaac E. Mcginnis, Roger L. Miller, Alissa L. Mitchell, Jason W. Mitchell, Jelila S. Mohammed, Charles A. Monroe, Kristina M. Montt de Garcia, Peter D. Mule, Louis T. Nagao, Son N. Ngo, Eric D. Norris, Dwight A. Norwood, Joseph Novotka, Takashi Okajima, Lawrence G. Olsen, Chimaobi O. Onyeachu, Henry Y. Orosco, Jacqualine R. Peterson, Kristina N. Pevear, Karen K. Pham, Sue E. Pollard, John S. Pope, Daniel F. Powers, Charles E. Powers, Samuel R. Price, Gregory Y. Prigozhin, Julian B. Ramirez, Winston J. Reid, Ronald A. Remillard, Eric M. Rogstad, Glenn P. Rosecrans, John N. Rowe, Jennifer A. Sager, Claude A. Sanders, Bruce Savadkin, Maxine R. Saylor, Alex F. Schaeffer, Nancy S. Schweiss, Sean R. Semper, Peter J. Serlemitsos, Larry V. Shackelford, Yang Soong, Jonathan Struebel, Michael L. Vezie, Joel S. Villasenor, Luke B. Winternitz, George I. Wofford, Michael R. Wright, Mike Y. Yang, Wayne H. Yu

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    Abstract

    During 2014 and 2015, NASA's Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission proceeded successfully through Phase C, Design and Development. An X-ray (0.2-12 keV) astrophysics payload destined for the International Space Station, NICER is manifested for launch in early 2017 on the Commercial Resupply Services SpaceX-11 flight. Its scientific objectives are to investigate the internal structure, dynamics, and energetics of neutron stars, the densest objects in the universe. During Phase C, flight components including optics, detectors, the optical bench, pointing actuators, electronics, and others were subjected to environmental testing and integrated to form the flight payload. A custom-built facility was used to co-align and integrate the X-ray "concentrator" optics and silicon-drift detectors. Ground calibration provided robust performance measures of the optical (at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) and detector (at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) subsystems, while comprehensive functional tests prior to payload-level environmental testing met all instrument performance requirements. We describe here the implementation of NICER's major subsystems, summarize their performance and calibration, and outline the component-level testing that was successfully applied.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE
    Number of pages16
    Volume9905
    PublisherSPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering
    Publication date2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Duration: 26 Jun 20161 Jul 2016

    Conference

    ConferenceSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityEdinburgh
    Period26/06/201601/07/2016
    SeriesProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
    ISSN0277-786X

    Keywords

    • X-ray astrophysics
    • Neutron stars
    • Timing spectroscopy
    • International Space Station
    • X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV)
    • X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes
    • astronomical telescopes
    • Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer
    • Phase C
    • astrophysics payload
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
    • Environmental technology
    • Environmental testing
    • Instrument testing
    • NASA
    • Neutrons
    • Pulsars
    • Sextants
    • Silicon detectors
    • Space flight
    • Space stations
    • Space telescopes
    • Stars
    • Component level testing
    • Design and Development
    • Goddard Space Flight Center
    • International Space stations
    • X-ray pulsars
    • Gamma rays

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