Solar ultraviolet light collector for germicidal irradiation on the moon

Sci Rep. 2023 May 23;13(1):8326. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-35438-4.


Prolonged human-crewed missions on the Moon are foreseen as a gateway for Mars and asteroid colonisation in the next decades. Health risks related to long-time permanence in space have been partially investigated. Hazards due to airborne biological contaminants represent a relevant problem in space missions. A possible way to perform pathogens' inactivation is by employing the shortest wavelength range of Solar ultraviolet radiation, the so-called germicidal range. On Earth, it is totally absorbed by the atmosphere and does not reach the surface. In space, such Ultraviolet solar component is present and effective germicidal irradiation for airborne pathogens' inactivation can be achieved inside habitable outposts through a combination of highly reflective internal coating and optimised geometry of the air ducts. The Solar Ultraviolet Light Collector for Germicidal Irradiation on the Moon is a project whose aim is to collect Ultraviolet solar radiation and use it as a source to disinfect the re-circulating air of the human outposts. The most favourable positions where to place these collectors are over the peaks at the Moon's poles, which have the peculiarity of being exposed to solar radiation most of the time. On August 2022, NASA communicated to have identified 13 candidate landing regions near the lunar South Pole for Artemis missions. Another advantage of the Moon is its low inclination to the ecliptic, which maintains the Sun's apparent altitude inside a reduced angular range. For this reason, Ultraviolet solar radiation can be collected through a simplified Sun's tracking collector or even a static collector and used to disinfect the recycled air. Fluid-dynamic and optical simulations have been performed to support the proposed idea. The expected inactivation rates for some airborne pathogens, either common or found on the International Space Station, are reported and compared with the proposed device efficiency. The results show that it is possible to use Ultraviolet solar radiation directly for air disinfection inside the lunar outposts and deliver a healthy living environment to the astronauts.