🔭 NASA mulls lunar time zone, cause of Einstein’s relativity

2024-04-07 06:00:18

The American government has made a decision that seems to come straight out of a science fiction novel: it has tasked NASA with creating a time zone specific to the Moon, with a slowed down flow of time. This new time standard, called “Temps Lunar Coordinated” (TLC), must be established before the end of 2026. This measure prepares the ground for humanity’s return to the Moon and, ultimately, trips to Mars.

But why a lunar time zone? Quite simply because time does not flow in the same way on the Moon as it does on Earth. Due to low lunar gravity, weaker than on Earth, time is slightly accelerated there, showing a difference of 58.7 microseconds each day on our terrestrial days.

This difference, although tiny, can disrupt the precise maneuvering of spacecraft and satellites by orbit around from the moon. Kevin Coggins, program manager communication and of navigation spacecraft, explains that Earth’s clocks would run at a vitesse different on the moon.

With the advent of space missions entirely controlled by computers, which was much less the case during the Apollo missions, the establishment of the TLC became a crucial step in anticipation of future lunar missions.

Following the Artemis 1 test flight, which saw NASA’s Orion capsule make an unmanned round trip to the Moon in November 2022, thespace agency plans to send humans into orbit around the Moon in 2025, then land on its surface in 2026. These missions will mark important steps in the ultimate ambition of the Artemis program: to take humans to Mars.

With the proliferation of countries and companies involved in new lunar missions, standardization of time is even more crucial. As Coggins points out, the atomic clocks at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington are the “beating heart of the nation,” keeping everything in sync that needs to be done. A “beat Similar “heart” will be needed for operations on the Moon, ensuring coordination between different missions and spacecraft.

This ambitious “Coordinated Lunar Time” project highlights the growing importance of the Moon inexploration future space and lays the foundations for a prolonged human presence in space, paving the way for more distant interplanetary travel.

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