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

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On Tuesday, The White House published a process plan leading NASA to create a new lunar time by 2026. Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) will establish an official time to help guide future lunar missions. It comes like the space race of the 21st century it originates from (at least) the US, China, Japan, India and Russia.

The memo directs NASA to work with the Departments of Commerce, Defense, State, and Transportation to develop a way to use LTC by December 31, 2026. International cooperation will also play a role, especially with the signatories of the Artemis Accords. Set in 2020, they are group of similar values among a growing list of (currently) 37 countries that regulate land surveying and management policies. China and Russia are not part of that 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 safe and accurate spacetime standards,” said OSTP Deputy Director of National Security Steve Welby. he wrote in a White House press release. “Consistent interpretation of time among space personnel is essential for effective situational awareness, navigation, and communication, all of which are fundamental to interoperability within the US government and with other nations.”

Einstein’s theories of relativity show that time changes according to speed and gravity. Given the Moon’s gravity (and the difference in its motion from Earth), time moves very quickly there. So a clock from Earth on the surface of the moon would appear to gain about 58.7 microseconds per Earth day. As the US and other countries plan missions to the Moon to explore, explore and (eventually) build a permanent habitable base, using a single standard will help them coordinate technology and missions that require real time.

“The same amount of time that we have on Earth is different on the moon,” said NASA Administrator Kevin Coggins. he said Reuters. “Think about the atomic clocks at the US Naval Observatory (in Washington). They are the heartbeat of the nation, synchronizing everything. You will need a monthly heartbeat. “

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

NASA

The White House wants LTC to align with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard by which all world time is measured. His memo says he wants a new term to support better travel and scientific endeavors. It also wants the LTC to remain stable if it loses contact with Earth while providing space “beyond the Earth-Moon system.”

NASA’s Artemis program wants to send a crew to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. The space agency said in January that Artemis 2, which will fly around the Moon with four people on board, is now scheduled for launch in September 2025. Artemis 3, which plans to return people to the Moon, is scheduled for 2026.

In addition to the US, China wants to put astronauts on the Moon before 2030 as the world’s two superpowers take their rivalry into space. While no other countries have announced missions to the moon, India (which place the module and rover on the Moon’s South Pole last year), Russia (his work around the same time it didn’t go well), United Arab Emirates, JapanSouth Korea is private companies both have shown passion for the moon in recent years.

In addition to supporting other scientific research, technology development and resource mining, the Moon could serve as an important stop on the way to Mars. It can test technologies and supply fuel and needs human services at Red Planet.

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