The Microgravity User Support Center in Cologne is a co-operative facility of two scientific institutes, Aerospace Medicine, Materials Science and Space Operations and Astronaut Training. MUSC operates major equipment for the scientific use of space in the disciplines of materials science, biological and extraterrestrial sciences and technology. The center qualifies space experiments for their certification of flight readiness, supports operation during flight with the necessary infrastructure (e.g. with on ground science reference models of flight units, and ground support computing systems) and after each successful mission makes archived data accessible for users throughout Europe. In parallel, future mission targets are being investigated and development of new experimental and measurement processes takes place. Concerning data system development, user-oriented command, data acquisition and archiving systems for space experiments are provided.
MUSC runs two control centers, the ISS Control Center for facility operations on board the International Space Station (ISS) and the Lander Control Center for the HP³ tasks of the Mars Mission InSight and preparations for the Phobos Mission MMX.
The International Space Station (ISS) is the world’s largest research facility for experiments under microgravity conditions. The ground infrastructure required for the scientific utilization of ISS facilities is distributed over various European User Support and Operations Centers (USOCs). With emphasis on the disciplines of biological sciences and materials physics, the MUSC in Cologne implemented the German USOC for support of research under microgravity conditions on board the ISS. Besides this, pilot experiments are tested on short-term microgravity missions in order to develop new facility concepts.
The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to Mars will see the long-harboured wishes of planetary scientists come true, in the form
of a geophysical observatory on a terrestrial planet.