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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 971474, 8 pages
Review Article

Simulated Microgravity: Critical Review on the Use of Random Positioning Machines for Mammalian Cell Culture

1Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, School of Engineering and Architecture, CC Aerospace Biomedical Science and Technology, Space Biology Group, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Seestraße 41, 6052 Hergiswil, Switzerland
2Institute of Biomedicine, Pharmacology, Aarhus University, Wilhelm Meyers Allé 4, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Received 15 May 2014; Revised 12 September 2014; Accepted 6 October 2014

Academic Editor: Jack J. W. A. Van Loon

Copyright © 2015 Simon L. Wuest et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Random Positioning Machines (RPMs) have been used since many years as a ground-based model to simulate microgravity. In this review we discuss several aspects of the RPM. Recent technological development has expanded the operative range of the RPM substantially. New possibilities of live cell imaging and partial gravity simulations, for example, are of particular interest. For obtaining valuable and reliable results from RPM experiments, the appropriate use of the RPM is of utmost importance. The simulation of microgravity requires that the RPM’s rotation is faster than the biological process under study, but not so fast that undesired side effects appear. It remains a legitimate question, however, whether the RPM can accurately and reliably simulate microgravity conditions comparable to real microgravity in space. We attempt to answer this question by mathematically analyzing the forces working on the samples while they are mounted on the operating RPM and by comparing data obtained under real microgravity in space and simulated microgravity on the RPM. In conclusion and after taking the mentioned constraints into consideration, we are convinced that simulated microgravity experiments on the RPM are a valid alternative for conducting examinations on the influence of the force of gravity in a fast and straightforward approach.