The White House has asked NASA to create a new time zone for the moon

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On Tuesday, the White House released one Policy Memo Directing NASA to create a new time standard for the Moon by 2026. It comes as the 21st century space race (at least) emerges between 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 strategy to put LTC into practice by December 31, 2026. International cooperation will also play a role, particularly with signatories to the Artemis Accords. Established in 2020, they are a set of common principles governing space exploration and management principles among a growing list of (currently) 37 countries. China and Russia are not part of this group.

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

Einstein’s theories of relativity suggest that time varies with speed and gravity. Given the Moon’s weak gravity (and the difference in motion between it and Earth), time moves a bit faster there. So an Earth-based clock on the surface of the Moon would appear to gain an average of 58.7 microseconds per Earth day. As the US and other countries plan lunar missions to research, explore and (eventually) build bases for permanent habitation, using a single standard will help them harmonize the technologies and missions they need at the exact time.

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

The Moon has been photographed in exquisite detail by NASA.

NASA

The White House wants LTC to coordinate with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard by which all time zones on Earth are measured. His memo says he wants a new time zone to enable accurate navigation and scientific endeavors. It also wants the LTC to maintain resilience in the event of loss of contact with Earth while providing scalability for space environments “outside the Earth-Moon system.”

NASA’s Artemis program aims to send a crewed mission back 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, is now set for a September 2025 launch. Artemis 3, which plans to put humans back on the lunar surface, is now scheduled for 2026.

Besides the US, China aims to put astronauts on the moon Before 2030 Two of the world’s leading global superpowers take their race into space. Although no other countries have announced crewed missions to the lunar surface, India (which placed a module and rover on the moon’s south pole last year), Russia (its mission at the same time did not go so well), the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea and private companies have expressed lunar ambitions in recent years.

Besides enabling further scientific exploration, technology establishment and resource mining, the moon could serve as an important stop on the way to Mars. It can test technologies and provide fuel and supply requirements for the final human mission to the Red Planet.

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