Report – NASA-IES Conference on Lighting for Difficult Environments

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Martin Valentine, LIGMAN Global Design Director presenting his work on artificial human circadian lighting

The first joint conference held by both the Illuminating Engineering Society and NASA recently took place at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston.  Entitled Lighting for Difficult Environments and sponsored by LIGMAN Lighting USA and other professional partners, it brought together experts from a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss lighting for human habitats with a strong focus on the future long-term space travel requirements for the planned Moon Base and Mars missions. 

In the morning, led by Toni Clark PE, NASA JSC HHPC Fellow for Spacecraft Lighting Environments (Leidos,Inc.) and other experts from NASA involved with the ISS internal lighting as well as future habitat engineering and EMU spacesuit helmet lighting systems, shared their work with the audience which was followed by a presentation by NASA astronaut Jerry Ross on his first hand experiences of sleep difficulties and coping with 16 sunrises every day in earth orbit.

There then followed a keynote presentation by Dr. George Brainard, PhD, Director of the Light Research Program (Thomas Jefferson University). Dr. Brainard has written numerous papers on the subject of human circadian lighting since the beginning of this century as well as working on specific research programs with NASA and the ISS. One of his key messages to take home was the importance of looking only at evidence-based solutions, claims and matrices as we move forward with this subject in future lighting sectors.

Dr. Brainard and Toni Clark then joined a panel alongside:

  • Ian Ashdown, PE (Ret.), FIES, Senior Scientist (SunTracker Ltd.)
  • Lee Brown, MD, Health System Sleep Disorders Center (University of New Mexico), Tenured Prof of Internal Medicine and Paediatrics, Adj. Prof. ECE
  • Rachel Fitzgerald, CLD, LC, IALD, LEED BD+C, Senior Associate, Discipline Lead, Lighting (Stantec)
  • Haniyeh Mirdamadi, Designer | Lighting at Arup and lighting designer for AI Space Factory MARSHA habitats
  • Martin Valentine, FSLL, MIES – LIGMAN Global Design Director

The panellists presented their various work, with LIGMAN’s Martin Valentine sharing his passion-project of designing the human habitat lighting for the Halley VI permanent Antarctica Science station in which base staff have lived now through 7 winters in which there is no natural sunlight availability for over 100 days each year.

One of the takeaways from the conference was how aligned the professional lighting world is with what NASA are researching and planning and the consistent messages and solutions presented from all parties, plus the need always for proper applied research and evidence-based solutions.

The day finished with a tour of the Space Centre and NASA’s Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility in which every module of the current ISS is laid out together with past, present and future space vehicles, various prototype robots and lunar and mars rovers.

Finally, there was a special closing dinner hosted by another NASA Shuttle Astronaut: Mark Polansky.

“NASA’s Space Vehicle Mock-Up Facility also now housing both NASA’s new Orion and Boeing Starliner Spacecraft. These two craft plus SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule will be tasked with taking human beings to colonise the Moon and onto Mars in the next decade…”

This conference could not have taken place without the hard work and organisation of Jared Gunlock, President of the IESMA Houston Section and Toni Clark. LIGMAN would like to express our thanks to them and all other involved in making this enlightening event happen.

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