Design Con 2015

Slideshow: How NASA uses LEDs

-May 31, 2013

I confess that I’ve always been hooked on NASA, its projects, inventions, and especially its photography—always awesome. Ever since I read James Michener’s SPACE, (yes, I’m sure most of you say who’s Michener?), space, and the exploration of it, has held a certain magic for me. What it must have been like for those first astronauts. I remember where I was when the Challenger exploded, and how I was on the edge of our collective seat during the Apollo 13 drama. I guess “hooked” isn’t strong enough of a word.

 

So, covering LEDs on this site led me to look at how the folks at NASA are using LEDs. From medical, photographs from Rovers, to growing plants, and more. I’ve put together some of the uses in this slideshow. This just scratches the proverbial surface. There are many more uses in helmets, as interior lights, on equipment, etc.

 

NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity. Photo: Courtesy of NASA

A photo of taken of a Martian rock illuminated by UV-LEDs is one of the first images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera located at the end of Mars rover Curiosity’s robotic arm.  MAHLI’s two UV LEDs emit light in a waveband centered at a wavelength of 365 nm. Exposure duration was 30 seconds. UV illumination is important when looking for fluorescent minerals. 

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity to investigate whether the Gale Crater has environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

 


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