MAC Provided Mechanical Design and Analysis for the University of Michigan’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS) Instrument
Michigan Aerospace Corporation (MAC), an advanced engineering and products company, provided key engineering work on an instrument aboard NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, which became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury on March 17. Greg Ritter acted as Lead Mechanical Engineer for the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS), an instrument developed at the University of Michigan. In that role, Mr. Ritter provided the design and analysis effort that allowed the instrument to go from prototype phase to flight hardware in 10 months. The FIPS instrument has already successfully observed energetic plasma near Mercury during MESSENGER’s three earlier flybys of the planet (necessary to slow MESSENGER down enough to enter Mercury orbit without using enormous amounts of fuel). FIPS will now join MESSENGER’s other instruments in observations of and near Mercury for an extended period. FIPS and MAC’s role in its development is detailed on this page. The University of Michigan’s FIPS page includes more information on the instrument.