The Dutch Experiment Support Center's, DESC, primary task is to provide user support for acceleration (i.e. gravity) research. It is a nonprofit initiative located at the Free University in Amsterdam.
main objective of DESC is to increase the scientific output in the field of
gravitational biology / physiology research.
To accomplish this, DESC supports, initiates and facilitates acceleration research by providing know-how and access to ground based research facilities and by offering services and (laboratory) assistance for ground based and flight experiments.
Support tasks by DESC may be divided in three areas:
A. Support to the science community, such as:
- Ground research with the facilitation of the MidiCAR centrifuge, the rodent centrifuge, the Random Positioning Machine (RPM), the Free Fall Machine (FFM), the levitation magnet, small clinostat and the MaxiCAR launch simulator.
- Participation in the preparation of scientific research and experiments by order of a PI.
- Support activities in preparation of flight experiments.
B. Support to industry / technology projects, such as:
- Flight support activities (e.g. for the Biopack facility or others).
- Assistance in preparation of and during parabolic flight experiments with the Citation (or possible future Balistocraft).
- Support in development and test of hardware for biological or related experiments like Laboratory Support Equipment (microscopes, CAELIS, sensors, various microscopes) and experiment modules (e.g. plunger units, LIDIA or others).
- Test and implementation of hardware on the RPM, FFM or centrifuges.
- Document support for ground and flight experiments.
- Identification / initiation of new payloads.
C. General tasks, such as:
- Familiarization of new users for (micro-) weight research.
- Involve young investigators of various levels by communicating the science background and possibilities of microweight research.
- Representation of users when applicable.
- Identification of new users for ground and flight studies.
- General outreach.
DESC is embedded in a larger structure
for 'User Support' within the Netherlands. The Dutch user support is arranged
within the 'Dutch Utilisation Center', DUC. See for DUC info the internal link,
DUC or external link DUC.
DESC was officially opened during the first NL-Symposium by the Dutch astronaut André Kuipers and starded its operations in January 1999.
The main DESC laboratory and facilities
are located at the department of Oral Biology, group of Oral Cell Biology (OCB)
of the Academic Center for Dentistry in Amsterdam (ACTA),
at the Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (See also 'Laboratory
Facilities available at DESC')
DESC is supported by grants from the Programme Bureau External Research of the Space Research Organisation of the Netherlands (SRON).