Bräucker, R., Machemer, H. (2002): CECILIA, a versatile research tool for cellular responses to gravity. Microgravity Sci. Technol, XIII/3, 3-13
We describe a centrifuge designed and constructed according to current demands for a versatile instrument in cellular gravitational research, in particular protists (ciliates, flagellates). The instrument (called CECILIA, centrifuge for ciliates) is suited for videomonitoring, videorecording, and quantitative evaluation of data from large numbers of swimming cells in a ground-based laboratory or in a drop tower/drop shaft under microgravity conditions. The horizontal rotating platform holds up to six 8mm-camcorders and six chambers holding the experimental cells. Under hypergravity conditions (up to 15 g) chambers can be rotated about 2 axes to adjust the swimming space at right angles or parallel to the resulting gravity vector. Evaluations of cellular responses to central acceleration - in the presence of gravitational 1 g - are used for extrapolation of cellular behaviour under hypogravity conditions. CECILIA is operated and monitored by computer using a custom-made software. Times and slopes of rising and decreasing acceleration, values and quality of steady acceleration are supervised on-line. CECILIA can serve as an on-ground research instrument for precursor investigations of the behaviour of ciliates and flagellates under microgravity conditions such as long-term experiments in the International Space Station.