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Center Independent Research & Development: JSC IRAD

Modeling of an Adjustable Beam Solid State Light

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

This proposal is for the development of a computational model of a prototype variable beam light source using optical modeling software, Zemax OpticStudio ®. The variable beam light source will be designed to generate flood, spot, and directional beam patterns, while maintaining the same average power usage.  The optical model will demonstrate the possibility of such a light source and its ability to address several issues:  commonality of design, human task variability, and light source design process improvements.  An adaptive lighting solution that utilizes the same electronics footprint and power constraints while addressing variability of lighting needed for the range of exploration tasks can save costs and allow the development of common avionics for lighting controls. 

One of the risks of a multi-system approach to reaching Mars is the cost added due to unique designs driven by the use cases of each operational platform.  The risk in developing a lighting solution for one platform, is that its design may not fully address the variability of tasks for other platforms, and due to vehicle time development scale, may become obsolete by the time the last vehicle component is developed.   Because of the rigorous and expensive certification process for electronic hardware, it would be wise to develop lighting system components and control technologies that are modular and adaptive to a wide range of internal and external vehicle tasks.  The introduction of the concept of computer based modeling of light sources prior to fabrication is a process improvement for spacecraft lighting design and its demonstration can show cost savings potential for the development of future lighting systems. 

This project will use the lighting and optical modeling software, Zemax OpticStudio ® Premium, to build a model of an LED array.  Zemax is a forward ray tracer that can model light source beam distribution, light source spectral wavelength, and material reflectance / transmittance properties.  It can predict final beam distribution based on the designed optical system.  Each LED in the array developed will represent currently manufactured LEDs intended for white light illumination.  The light output of the LEDs will be controlled individually, while maintaining the same total flux output.  The goal is to develop beam pattern distributions, from the same source that represent flood, spot, and directional lighting while consuming approximately the same power. 

The deliverable will be a Zemax computational lighting model that can be interpreted, as a future project, into an end item specification for a variable beam light source.  The computation model will show the type and number of LEDs, LED spacing, intensity of the LEDs used to generate each beam pattern, and constraints on diffuser optics.   In addition to the computational model, Illumination Engineering Society (IES) beam pattern files for each beam type will be published.   Beam pattern data will be interpreted for potential application in an installation as it relates to human task performance.

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