Large radius (animal) centrifuge

 The large radius centrifuge may be used for applying hypergravity to small laboratory animals (rat, mouse, hamster, rabbit, pig, fish), plants, 'non-living' samples, cell biological experiments that may need additional features such as microscopes, technology experiments or complete (middeck locker/drawer sized) payloads for Shuttle or the International Space Station (ISS). Animals may be housed in the centrifuge for prolonged periods of time up to several life cycles.

This large diameter system (up to nearly four meters) is powered by a 3.5 kW DC motor which drives two arms on which the swing-out gondolas are attached. Maximum acceleration of the nominal system ranges from 1 to ~ 8 × g or higher for reduced experiment masses.

Non rotating centrifuge with lifted safety barrier.

Rotating centrifuge with swing-out gondola.

The centrifuge has been operated by the Vestibular Department of the Academic Medical Center (AMC) for more than a decade now. Various samples have been exposed to hypergravity conditions. This ranges from fish, hamsters, pigeons and rats. The centrifuge has also been used for physical studies regarding particle coagulation and gel formation studies, see Folkersma in section Publications / Academic Thesis.

Study Participation

At present the centrifuge is being used for long duration rat experiments. The animals are housed for periods of time up to 10-12 months at 2.5 times Earth's gravity. The main topic of research of the AMC is to investigate various properties of the vestibular system, but the animals are also used by other scientists. Other systems studied are e.g. the immune system, bone, muscle, brain, intestines, cartilage, extra cellular matrix components etc. (see Figure)

Some example studies / organs used.

It is possible to participate in these hypergravity studies. In principle the study is open to every scientist. You may participate in one of the ongoing studies, or you may initiate your own pilot study.
All participants are required to provide their (preliminary) results 6 months after the disposal of the hypergravity and control samples. The final results are to be expected to be published as soon as all analysis have been concluded.

In short there are three basic scenarios to make use of this research facility:

  1. Participate in the ongoing research projects
  2. Incorporate your experiment onto the centrifuge while the ongoing experiment is running
  3. Perform a dedicated experiment

We are studying various possibilities to increase the research potential for this centrifuge. This includes both the research capacity as well as the scientific possibilities. Some of the improvements are the introduction of telemetry to monitor animal behavior (on-line monitoring of body temperature, heart beat, arterial pressure, mobility or other body sensors), facilitate metabolic studies, exercise studies etc.

The hypergravity experiments may also be complemented by a rodent microgravity simulation model as was developed at NASA-Ames (E.R. Morey 1979) using a rat or mouse tail suspension setup as is seen in the graphical representation below.

A typical setup for a rat tail suspension experiment.(Drawing from Apseloff et al. 1993)

The centrifuge gondola are such that for example cell biological experiments that need large microscopes or other setups for on-line monitoring of cell / tissue behavior may be accommodated.

When you are interested in a collaborative participation for this study or when you need a dedicated experiment run, you are invited to contact us to discuss various possibilities. You may also directly send an experiment proposal either to DESC or respond to one of the international 'Announcements of Opportunities' (AO) as are in general annually issued by the European Space Agency (ESA) or other space agencies. You may also apply via an unsolicited proposal to ESA via the 'fast track' Continuously Open Research Announcements. You may contact us when you need any support for this. Dutch scientists may also apply nationally via a NSO-NWO proposal. An additional copy of the proposal has to be provided to DESC for technical and operational evaluations.

AMC Animal Centrifuge Laboratory layout (click to enlarge)

Download AMC video sequenceDownload centrifuge video sequence (2.0MB MPEG) (video courtesy by the Dutch Wereldomroep TV)

Animal Centrifuge Detailed Description

  • Two armed centrifuge, each arm accommodating one swing-out gondola
  • With present size and mass of gondola, maximum acceleration up to ~ 8 ×g (may be increased depending on experiment mass)
  • Largest diameter for experiments in the gondola at maximum swing-out is 3.68m.
  • Each gondola has preset levels on which an experiment may be placed
  • The functional volume in each standard gondola is 900 × 380 × 700 mm (l×w×h)
  • Mass of each gondola is around 60 kg.
  • Rotating 'controls' may be accommodated in central axis (functional volume 500 × 500 × 500 mm)
  • Data and command lines are provided to monitor or control experiments on the rotating part
  • 220 Volt / 600VA (5 outlets permanent 220V, 5 outlets 220V IR controlled)
  • 10 switchable command lines , 0.5A / 220V
  • 16 signal lines : 4V peak/peak: DC - 100 Hz (optical / multiplexed)
  • One contactless video channel with (at present) 2 cameras
  • Centrifuge is accommodated in dedicated laboratory room


• See for additional information also under Publications 'Academic Thesis', thesis and 'Peer-reviewed-papers': under Sondag, or Folkersma or de Jong or Wubbels.
• Morey E.R. Spaceflight and bone turnover: Correlation with a new rat model of weightlessness. BioScience, 29/3, 168-72, 1979.
• Apseloff G.; Girten B.; Walker M.; Shepard D.R.; Krecic M.E.; Stern L.S., and Gerber N. Aminohydroxybutane bisphosphonate and clenbuterol prevent bone changes and retard muscle atrophy respectively in tail-suspended rats. Journal of Pharmacology and Experiental Therapeutics. 1993; 254(3):1071-1078.

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