As space agencies around the world continue to prepare for more trips to the moon, the European Space Agency is thinking about creating a time zone for astronauts on the lunar surface.
The ESA shared that the possibility comes as it’s a bit more complex to tell time in space because it’s calculated based on time on Earth.
With astronauts from different parts of the planet expected to head to space, a universal method of keeping time on the moon could be useful.
Currently, missions to the moon require the use of deep space antennas so that onboard systems are synchronized with time on Earth. However, the ESA says this isn’t sustainable for humans planning on establishing more permanent structures on the moon.
Overall, Moon Time would be useful for astronauts making precise guidance and navigation on the moon as agencies move forward with building a base on the surface. The ESA says implementing a standardized time zone will also help with collaboration.
But, throwing Moon Time onto the list of timezones isn’t as easy as it seems, as European space officials still don’t know who will be responsible for establishing it and how it will work.
Bernhard Hufenbach, a member of the ESA’s Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration, shared in a statement that deciding how to go forward with the idea is complex. He noted that it also has “to be practical for astronauts.”
“This will be quite a challenge on a planetary surface where in the equatorial region each day is 29.5 days long, including freezing fortnight-long lunar nights, with the whole of Earth just a small blue circle in the dark sky,” Hufenbach said. “But having established a working time system for the moon, we can go on to do the same for other planetary destinations.”
Moon Time is also complex because clocks on the moon run roughly 56 microseconds faster per day than clocks on Earth. The tiny shifts in time can vary depending on location, meaning being on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit is also different speeds.
Nonetheless, astronauts are prepared to tackle the topic, as some form of time will be needed for those navigating the stars.
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