DESC - Random Positioning Machine (RPM)

The RPM is accommodated in a temperature-controlled incubator ranging from +4 to +40°C.
PC user interface with dedicated control software.
Operational modes: random (0.1-2 rad/sec), centrifuge (0.1-20 rpm) and clinostat (0.1-20 rpm) and freely programmable mode.
Experiment interfaces: Switchable 12/15 Volt power line, RS232 (422) data bus (optical), Fiber optic video connection and camera.
Control experiment with same interfaces are placed in same environment.
Maximum experiment mass to be accommodated ~10 kg.
Functional experiment accommodation volume 450 × 450 × 300 mm.

Mode of operation

Mode of operation is depending on the experiment requirements. There are no particular restrictions for a typical experiment.


The RPM is located at the DESC lab, Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


The RPM facility is open for all European and non-European users. Proposals have to be submitted directly to DESC or via the ESA or international AO’s for Ground Based Research.

Contact person/address

For additional info you may contact dr. Jack van Loon of the Dutch Experiment Support Center (DESC), e-mail: or visit the general DESC website.

Reference literature

The Random Positioning Machine is based on the hypothesis of Dr. D. Mesland (see ESA Publication). You may also go to the DESC site to download a pdf version of a paper by Kraft Tristan F. B. , Jack J. W. A. van Loon, John Z. Kiss. Plastid position in Arabidopsis columella cells is similar in microgravity and on a random-positioning machine. Planta. 211(3), 415-422, 2000. Other papers as referenced in the Kraft paper describe a similar machine for plant experiments by Hoson et al. Experiment on mammalian cells are conducted by Schwartzenberg et al.: ‘Signal transduction in T lymphocytes - A comparison of the data from space, the free fall machine and the random positioning machine’ in Adv. Space Res. 24, 793-800, 1999.

Last update: 23 January 2012

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