The White House tells NASA to create a new time zone for the Moon

The White House issued a statement on Tuesday policy memorandum Directs NASA to establish a new time standard for the Moon by 2026. The Coordinated Lunar Clock (LTC) will establish an official time reference to help guide future lunar missions. comes as The space race of the 21st century (at least) between the US, China, Japan, India and Russia.

The memo directs NASA to work with the Departments of Commerce, Defense, State, and Transportation to plan a strategy to implement the LTC by December 31, 2026. International cooperation will also play a role, especially with the signatories of the Artemis Agreements. They were created in 2020 a set of general principles Among the growing list of (currently) 37 countries that govern space exploration and operational principles. China and Russia are not included in this group.

“As NASA, private companies and space agencies around the world launch missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond, it is imperative that we establish celestial time standards for safety and accuracy,” said Steve Welby, OSTP’s Deputy Director of Homeland Security. he wrote In a White House press release. “Consistent time definition among operators in space is critical to successful space situational awareness capabilities, navigation and communications, all of which are fundamental to ensuring interoperability with the US government and international partners.”

Einstein’s theories of relativity dictate that time changes relative to speed and gravity. Given the Moon’s weaker gravity (and the differences in motion between it and Earth), time moves slightly faster there. Thus, an Earth-based clock on the surface of the Moon gains an average of 58.7 microseconds per Earth day. As the U.S. and other countries plan lunar missions to survey, explore and (eventually) build bases for permanent habitation, using a single standard will help them synchronize precisely timed technologies and missions.

“The same clock on Earth would run at a different speed on the Moon,” said Kevin Coggins, NASA’s head of space communications and navigation. he said Reuters. “Think of the atomic clocks at the US Naval Observatory (in Washington). They are the heartbeat of the nation that synchronizes everything. You’ll want a heartbeat on the moon.”

A photo of the Moon taken by NASA in fine detail.A photo of the Moon taken by NASA in fine detail.


The White House wants LTC to be aligned with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard by which all of Earth’s time zones are measured. His note says he wants the new time zone to allow for precise navigation and scientific endeavours. It also wants LTC to maintain continuity in the event of a loss of communication with Earth while providing scalability for space environments “beyond the Earth-Moon system.”

NASA’s Artemis program It aims to send manned missions back to the Moon For the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. Artemis 2, which will orbit the moon with four people on board, is now set to launch in September 2025, the space agency said in January. Artemis 3, which plans to return humans to the lunar surface, is now scheduled for 2026.

Besides the US, China also aims to send astronauts to the moon By 2030 The world’s two leading global superpowers are taking their race to space. While no other country has announced crewed lunar missions, India (which Place a module and a rover on the Moon’s South Pole last year), Russia (mission at about the same time it didn’t go so well), United Arab Emirates, JapanSouth Korea and private companies all have demonstrated lunar ambitions in recent years.

In addition to allowing for further scientific exploration, technological development and resource extraction, the Moon could serve as a critical stop on the way to Mars. It can test technologies and meet fuel and supply needs The last human missions to the Red Planet.

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