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Science AMA Series: We are scientists working on the first-ever NASA mission dedicated to studying pulsars, the ‘weird’ stellar objects that were accidentally discovered 50 years ago. Ask Us Anything!
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That’s all we have time to answer now! Thanks for all your pulsar related questions. You can stay up-to-date on the mission here: https://www.nasa.gov/nicer. And learn more technical information about NICER here: https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/nicer/. Pulsars are rotating “lighthouse” neutron stars that began their lives as stars between about seven and 20 times the mass of our sun. They spin hundreds of times per second, faster than the blades of a household blender and they possess enormously strong magnetic fields, trillions of times stronger than Earth’s. For the first time, NASA has a mission to study pulsars using X-ray technology to uncover mysteries of the cosmos while paving the way for future space exploration. This two-in-one mission is called NICER-SEXTANT and it’s currently aboard the International Space Station. NICER (the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer) uses 56 telescopes to study the structure, dynamics and energetics of these spinning neutron stars. What makes up their cores is not known, but if these super-dense objects were compressed much further they’d collapse into black holes. SEXTANT (the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology) uses NICER’s observations to test - for the first time in space – technology that uses pulsars to create a GPS-like system. This technology could support spacecraft navigation throughout the solar system, enabling deep-space exploration in the future. More background: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/nasa-continues-to-study-pulsars-50-years-after-their-chance-discovery Read about five famous pulsars from the past 50 years: https://nasa.tumblr.com/post/163637443034/five-famous-pulsars-from-the-past-50-years ­­­­ We are: · Dr. Keith Gendreau – NICER Principal Investigator, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian – NICER Science Lead, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Craig Markwardt – NICER Calibration Lead & Neutron Star Scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Luke Winternitz – SEXTANT Systems Architect, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Jason Mitchell – SEXTANT Project Manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Rita Sambruna – NICER Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters · Dr. Stefan Immler – NICER Deputy Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters · Dr. Slavko Bogdanov – Pulsar/Neutron star Scientist, Columbia University Communications Support: · Aries Keck – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Clare Skelly – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Claire Saravia – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Dr. Barb Mattson – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center · Sara Mitchell – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Don’t forget to follow the NICER mission at www.nasa.gov/nicer and @NASAGoddard on Twitter and Facebook!