The centrifuge will be 2.5 meters in diameter, which is about 8 feet. As the centrifuge rotates, it produces artificial gravitational forces upon attached that house various biological specimens. It is capable of producing controlled, artificial levels ranging from 0.01 g to 2.0 g. To create a 1.0 g field (Earth’s gravity), the centrifuge rotates at 28 revolutions per minute. Slower rotations produce lower levels of artificial gravity, faster rotations produce higher levels of gravity. Selectable gravity will permit scientists to compare how differing gravity levels affect the biology of organisms housed under otherwise identical conditions, thus separating the effects of gravity from other factors in the space environment.
Comparison of living systems exposed to the reduced or intermittent gravity levels attainable with the centrifuge will help determine whether artificial gravity will be necessary during extended human missions into space. If artificial gravity is necessary, the centrifuge will help researchers determine how long, and at what level, organisms must be exposed to artificial gravity in order to maintain health. Use of the centrifuge will aid in the development of effective counter measures to the effects of space flight evident in astronauts.