Should the moon have its own time zone? Story-level
There are also debates about how to calculate lunar timekeeping. Clocks on the moon gain about 56 microseconds per day (one microsecond equals one millionth of a second), making them run slightly faster than clocks on Earth.
These small changes also vary by location, which means that clocks on the moon don’t necessarily keep pace with clocks in lunar orbit.
“Of course, the agreed time framework will also have to be practical for astronauts,” said Bernhard Hufenbach, who works in ESA’s Directorate for Human and Robotic Exploration.
“This will be quite a challenge on a planetary surface where in the equatorial region each day lasts 29.5 days, including icy fifteen-day lunar nights, with all of Earth a small blue circle in the dark sky.” said in a statement. “But having established a working time system for the moon, we can do the same for other planetary destinations.”
But beyond astronauts and ground controllers being able to tell time on the moon, the need for standard timekeeping in space is also essential for orientation and navigation.
Just as GPS systems on Earth require precise timing and coordination, so will any infrastructure built and operated on the Moon.
Typically, missions to the moon use deep-space antennas to keep onboard systems in sync with time on Earth, but European space officials say this method may not be sustainable as humans establish a more permanent presence. on the moon.
Many of these discussions are already clandestine as part of NASA’s LunaNet Initiative, a project to develop technologies, techniques, and standards for lunar navigation and communications. These efforts are a key part of the agency’s Artemis program, which aims to build lunar bases and launch a regular mission to the moon before venturing to Mars.
In November, space officials met at the European Center for Space Research and Technology in the Netherlands to discuss priorities to follow.
“During this meeting…we agreed on the importance and urgency of defining a common lunar reference time, which is internationally accepted and to which all lunar systems and users can refer,” said Pietro Giordano, navigation systems engineer at the ESA. in a sentence. “A joint international effort is now being launched to achieve this.”