Why NASA Uses Red Light Therapy?


“Life except on Earth is impossible to live!”

This sentence became a challenge for NASA scientists. And they started initiating their mission to grow plants in space.

They knew that these plants couldn’t be grown with the use of common light sources like halogen or incandescent light as these were not at all adaptable for space flight. And also, one of the significant reasons traditional lighting cannot be used is due to substantial energy demands and heat outputs.

So, scientists came up with LED lights as these were energy-efficient and safe to use. Moreover, they even discovered that these lights could also be very beneficial for the astronauts.

Therefore, in this article, we’ll know why NASA approved LED red light therapy and how this therapy can be used for modern-day health care.

LED Light Therapy And Plant Growth

The first person to advise the use of LED lights for the growth of plants was Ronald W. Ignatius, the chairman and founder of Quantum Devices Inc.

This idea burst in his head in the late 1980s when NASA planned to experiment with plant growths. The choice of this light was highly energy-efficient and released waves ten times brighter than the Sun itself.

The primary focus of this experiment was to do research on different light sources for the growth of plants indoors, like in space shuttles and the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s primary purpose was to see if these artificial light sources can help plants initiate photosynthesis. And just as they hoped, these LEDs boosted energy in plants’ cells, which drastically increased their growth and helped these plants to photosynthesize.

Although few setbacks didn’t prevent them from creating Astroculture3, a specialized plant growth chamber mainly uses LEDs to initiate the growth of plants on spacecraft.

Further Research Continues

Just like any other technologies, LEDs have also been evolving since the day it was first designed. In today’s generation, LEDs are more powerful than before and also release less heat. Moreover, these lights can be tuned to precise and different wavelengths. And this became very beneficial for both plants and humans.

Since 2012, NASA scientists have been carrying out different experiments on red leaf lettuce and radish plants under these artificial lights to see how it actually proceeds.

As they kept going with the research, they found that the more these plants were exposed to this light, the overall growth drastically increased. This includes their density and sizes, the chlorophyll contents, and also adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

They even found that the radishes which were exposed to blue and red LEDs grew darker red, which specified high levels of antioxidants.

Antioxidant rich foods like red lettuce, tomatoes, and blueberries are very important to human health. Moreover, red lights can also be very beneficial to astronauts who travel to space.

Moreover, LED technology is even helping scientists to grow plants in space. Slowly, this entire procedure will take the world to a whole new level where spacecraft will produce oxygen for the crew members and also filter water.

How LED Light Therapy Benefits Humans?

One of the significant effects of LED light therapy is that these wavelengths can be absorbed by the mitochondria of the cells, which are the energy suppliers inside the cells. This helps the mitochondria to produce more ATPs, which can then increase the cells’ ability to perform the essential functions.

Moreover, this can also help heal, prevent severe tissue damage and death, prevent inflammation, and relieve pain. In other studies, it has been found that red light therapy can also be used to increase cellular metabolism and also help to increase blood circulation.

In further research, it has been discovered that red light therapy can also speed up any injury recovery. People who suffer from stress or depression can also take the help of this therapy.

It has even been found that the benefits of red light therapy include the treatment of skin conditions and enhancement of muscle mass growth. These therapies can even be used to cure stretch marks and slagging skin.

NASA scientists are very much fond of these red light therapies, as these can even help their astronauts with various kinds of issues.

But recently, one of the most revolutionary discoveries in the field of light therapies is PDT (Photodynamic Therapy). It’s a therapy for cancer treatment. This therapy uses photosensitizing drugs in addition to high-intensity red light to kill the targeted cancerous cells.

Although, further research is being conducted to discover more ins and outs of this treatment.

A Gift for NASA Astronauts

One of the problems that NASA was facing was the harmful radiation on the astronauts, especially during intense space missions. It became very essential for NASA to come up with something that could help the astronauts during these missions.

When the astronauts were in space missions, the extreme radiation caused severe, temporary sickness due to these radiations. And there were many long-term effects and risks as well. These radiations were damaging their immune cells, which could even cause them to suffer from cancer, cataracts, and circulatory disorders. And some even had Alzheimer’s.

Due to all these complications, red light therapy has been like a gift to them. These therapies can be used to help them heal and even cure certain conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Although, more research is still being conducted to see further discoveries of these therapy lights.

Bottom Line

LED light therapies have genuinely been one of the best scientific advancements of all time. Not just curing humans but growing plants using artificial light is undoubtedly remarkable.

There was a time when growing plants without the Sun’s light seemed impossible but after the innovation of LED lights, the concept entirely changed.

Red light therapy devices are now available in clinics and hospitals. Moreover, to make these devices more convenient, they are even being manufactured for home.

But before you purchase one for yourself, do take the suggestions of your doctors as they know whether or not you would need them for any sort of treatment.

I hope this article will help you to know why NASA uses red light therapy.