Solid-state lighting for the International Space Station: Tests of visual performance and melatonin regulation
Brainard, George C., et al. (2013). "Solid-state lighting for the International Space Station: Tests of visual performance and melatonin regulation." Acta Astronautica 92 1: 21-28
The International Space Station (ISS) uses General Luminaire Assemblies (GLAs) that house fluorescent lamps for illuminating the astronauts' working and living environments. Solid-state light emitting diodes (LEDs) are attractive candidates for replacing the GLAs on the ISS. The advantages of LEDs over conventional fluorescent light sources include lower up-mass, power consumption and heat generation, as well as fewer toxic materials, greater resistance to damage and long lamp life. A prototype Solid-State Lighting Assembly (SSLA) was developed and successfully installed on the ISS. The broad aim of the ongoing work is to test light emitted by prototype SSLAs for supporting astronaut vision and assessing neuroendocrine, circadian, neurobehavioral and sleep effects. Three completed ground-based studies are presented here including experiments on visual performance, color discrimination, and acute plasma melatonin suppression in cohorts of healthy, human subjects under different SSLA light exposure conditions within a high-fidelity replica of the ISS Crew Quarters (CQ). All visual tests were done under indirect daylight at 201 lx, fluorescent room light at 531 lx and 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ at 1266 lx. Visual performance was assessed with numerical verification tests (NVT). NVT data show that there are no significant differences in score (F=0.73, p=0.48) or time (F=0.14, p=0.87) for subjects performing five contrast tests (10%–100%). Color discrimination was assessed with Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue tests (FM-100). The FM-100 data showed no significant differences (F=0.01, p=0.99) in color discrimination for indirect daylight, fluorescent room light and 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ. Plasma melatonin suppression data show that there are significant differences (F=29.61, p<0.0001) across the percent change scores of plasma melatonin for five corneal irradiances, ranging from 0 to 405 μW/cm2 of 4870 K SSLA light in the CQ (0–1270 lx). Risk factors for the health and safety of astronauts include disturbed circadian rhythms and altered sleep–wake patterns. These studies will help determine if SSLA lighting can be used both to support astronaut vision and serve as an in-flight countermeasure for circadian desynchrony, sleep disruption and cognitive performance deficits on the ISS.