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UV Lights and LEDs Will Help Sustain Mars Colonists
Mar 2002
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 15 -- Energy-saving ways to light food crops in space using vertical strips of colored, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will be investigated by researchers who are developing technologies for sustaining human colonies on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Purdue University has received a $10 million, five-year grant to lead the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training for Advanced Life Support. The center will include 24 researchers from Purdue, Alabama A&M University and Howard University.

The center's director, Cary Mitchell, said Purdue will help design a self-sustaining environment for future space colonies.

Mitchell said, "Light strips will hang right in the crop stand with plants growing all around them. These lights are cool enough that plants can even touch them. The colors will match the absorbance of the photosynthetic pigments in the plants. This is a modification of the commercial 'pathlights' you see in movie theaters and in airline exit rows."

Another Purdue researcher is designing a system that will use ultraviolet light to further cleanse the air and water before it is used by the space-colony crews.

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