Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC) - 07.15.14
ISS Science for Everyone
Science Objectives for Everyone The Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC), located in the Human Research Facility-2 (HRF-2) will allow the collection and in situ processing, such as density-based separation of fluid samples, which is integral to many biomedical experiments and to flight medicine in microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)
ISS Expedition Duration
April 2005 - October 2015
Previous ISS Missions
- The Refrigerated Centrifuge (RC) is a device that is used to separate biological substances of varying densities by spinning at a high rate.
- The six chamber RC rotor chamber can hold samples sized from 2 to 50-ml. The twenty-four chamber RC rotor can hold samples sized from 0.5 to 2.2 ml. The speed can be selected from 500 to 5000 revolutions per minute (rpm) for 1 to 99 minute durations, or it can be set to run continuously.
- The RC was designed to provide refrigeration with temperatures that range from ambient ISS temperature to 4 degrees C, but currently, the on-orbit unit is not cooling.
The centrifuge was designed to be capable of maintaining a rotor chamber temperature to +4 degrees C, with selectable set points in increments of 1 degree C (within a tolerance of +2 to -4 degrees C). However, due to an anomaly, the RC does not currently have the ability to refrigerate on orbit.
The RC is capable of running continuously for indefinite run times, or a set run time from 1 - 99 minutes. Currently, the RC is only certified for refrigeration operations of up to 60 minutes, and can be powered up for up to 3.5 hours due to acoustic constraints. It also provides selectable speed over a minimum range of 500 to 5000 revolutions per minute (rpm), selectable in increments of 10 rpm. It accommodates sample sizes from 0.5 to 50-ml between the two rotors. One rotor can hold up to six samples sized from 2 to 50-ml. The other rotor can hold up to 24 samples sized from 0.5 to 2.2 ml.
During experiment operations, sample tubes are placed into adapters installed in the appropriately-sized RC rotor by the crewmember. After the samples are inserted, the RC door is closed and the crewmember sets the required parameters (determined by the science requirements of the investigation) and starts the RC. Following the completion of centrifrugation, the sample tubes are removed from the RC and stored following experimental protocols. If no experiment use of the RC occurs in a six month period, a crewmember performs a health check, which allows the ground team to verify the health and status of RC components.
The RC was launched in the HRF-2 rack aboard STS-114 (Discovery) on July 26, 2005 during Expedition 11. The RC has been used to support NASA’s Nutrition, Repository, Pro K, Microbiome, Cardio Ox, Biochem Profile, and Salivary Markers experiments as well as CSA’s Vascular and ESA’s CARD and Solo experiments. NASA’s Fluid Shifts and Rodent Research 2 and 3 experiments will also utilize the RC.
- Crewmembers balance and insert sample tubes into adapters installed in the approximately sized RC rotor.
- After the samples are inserted, the RC door is closed and the crewmember selects the parameters (speed, time and temperature) at which the samples should be centrifuged. Parameters are determined by each experiment to meet the science requirements of that investigation.
- Following completion of centrifugation, the sample tubes are removed from the RC and stored per the experiment protocol.
Ground Based Results Publications
NASA Image: ISS015E10555 - Astronaut Suni Williams, Expedition 14 and 15 Flight Engineer, configures her blood samples in the Human Research Facility - 2 Refrigerated Centrifuge, preparing to separate the cellular and liquid components of blood to facilitate sample analysis on the ground.
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NASA Image: ISS015E13648 - View of Expedition 15 astronaut and Flight Engineer, Clayton Anderson, working with test samples in the Human Research Facility - 2 Refrigerated Centrifuge for the Nutritional Status Assessment experiment to help understand human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight.
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