NASA, Congressman to discuss future of space exploration, unveil new instrument

February 12, 2003

ANN ARBOR—A NASA official and a U.S. Congressman will visit the University of Michigan College of Engineering on Friday (Feb.14) to discuss the future of NASA’s space exploration efforts in a post-Columbia environment and help unveil a new scientific instrument designed by the College of Engineering for NASA’s planned mission to Mercury in 2004.

Richard Fisher is director of NASA’s Sun-Earth Connection Division. He has overall responsibility for developing policy and providing guidance for NASA’s program to understand the physics of the variable Sun and its influence on the heliosphere, solar system plasmas, the upper atmospheres and magnetospheres of planets, especially the Earth, and the origin of cosmic rays. U.S. Congressman Joe Knollenberg represents Michigan’s 9th Congressional District and serves on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee for Independent Agencies, which includes responsibility for appropriations supporting NASA.

The College of Engineering will unveil the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer (FIPS), a revolutionary instrument designed for NASA’s MESSENGER Mission to Mercury and engineered by Michigan Engineering’s Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS) department. The FIPS project, led by U-M research scientist Thomas Zurbuchen, demonstrates how the creation of high-performance, low-weight instruments can be used to explore the solar system without risk to human life.

This event is free and open to the University community, invited guests and the media. Activities will begin at 10:30 a.m. with an outreach tour of research-related facilities. Formal presentations begin at 12:30 p.m. at Boeing Auditorium in the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building. Questions and interviews by media will be addressed 2-2:30 p.m. The University of Michigan College of Engineering is consistently ranked among the top engineering schools in the world. The College is composed of 11 academic departments: aerospace engineering; atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences; biomedical engineering; chemical engineering; civil and environmental engineering; electrical engineering and computer science; industrial and operations engineering; materials science and engineering; mechanical engineering; naval architecture and marine engineering; and nuclear engineering and radiological sciences. Each year the College enrolls over 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students and grants about 1,200 undergraduate degrees and 800 masters and doctoral degrees. For more information, please visit our web site at Related links:

Messenger/FIPS project > Phone: (734) 647-7087