Jun 02, 2017 05:04 AM EDT
American space agency National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) announced that they will launch its first-ever mission devoted to studying neutron stars. These rapidly spinning unusual objects in space were first discovered 50 years ago by British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell.
NASA announced their intention on having a mission focused on neutron stars in their official website. They said that they will use the same platform to carry out the world's first demonstration of X-ray navigation in space.
NASA plans in launching two-in-one Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which would be aboard the SpaceX CRS-11, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Space X CRS-11 will also aboard the Falcon 9 rocket.
This investigation, which is described by NASA as "one-of-a-kind", will begin observing neutron stars, the known densest objects in the universe. The mission would also focus on pulsars, the neutron stars that appear to wink because their spin sweeps beams of radiation like a cosmic lighthouse.
Keith Gendreau, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said that the timing of the neutron stars launch is apropos. In an article published by Phys.org, although the team behind this mission had already completed and delivered the payload equipped with 56 X-ray telescopes and silicon detectors last summer, a launch opportunity did not materialize until 2017.
NICER Deputy Principal Investigator Zaven Arzoumanian claims that after the 50th anniversary of the discovery of neutron stars, the NICER team have collected enough data to study these space objects. NASA would further extend the study if enough data was garnered with this launch.
Neutron stars and pulsars were first theoretically proposed back in 1939 and then discovered back in 1967. NASA described these space objects as remnants of massive stars that came after exhausting their nuclear fuel, exploded, and collapsed into super-dense spheres that are about the size of New York City.
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