US wants to establish time standard on the Moon


In a move that promises to redefine the way we understand and manage time in space, the White House ordered the NASA the creation of a unified time standard for the Moon and other celestial bodies. This initiative, part of the growing interest in lunar exploration by both nations and private companies, seeks to establish international standards in space.

The memo, first seen by Reuters, was issued by the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It instructs you to NASA to collaborate with other spheres of the US government to develop a plan by the end of 2026. This plan aims to implement what was called Coordinated Lunar Time (CLT).

Why Is a Lunar Time Standard Necessary?

The importance of a unified time standard for the Moon is due, in part, to the difference in gravitational force and other celestial factors that alter the way time passes relative to Earth. Lunar spacecraft and satellites that demand extreme precision in their missions would benefit immensely from a time-keeping framework.

What Are the Current Challenges Without a Lunar Time Standard?

An OSTP official highlighted that without a unified lunar time standard, it would be challenging to ensure the security of data transfer between spacecraft and the synchronization of communications between Earth, lunar satellites, bases and astronauts. Temporal discrepancies can also result in mapping and location errors on or around the Moon.

How Will Coordinated Lunar Time Be Established?

According to Kevin Coggins, head of space communications and navigation at NASA, “Think of the atomic clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory. They are the heart of the nation, synchronizing everything. You’ll want a heart on the Moon.” To implement CLT, it may be necessary to install atomic clocks on the lunar surface.

Furthermore, it was mentioned that as commercial activities expand to the Moon, a unified time standard would be essential to coordinate operations, ensure the reliability of transactions, and manage the logistics of lunar commerce. The China National Space Administration has expressed an intention to send its first astronauts to the Moon by 2030, and India has revealed plans for a manned lunar mission around 2040, highlighting the international need for this standard.

U.S. leadership in setting an appropriate standard that meets the precision and endurance needed to operate in the challenging lunar environment will benefit all spacefaring nations, according to the OSTP memorandum. Determining the CLT will require international agreements through “existing normative bodies” and between the 36 nations that have signed a pact called the Artemis Accords, which defines how countries should act in space and on the Moon.

This effort by the United States to establish a cohesive lunar time standard underscores the vital role that timing and synchronization will play in future missions and space exploration. As we move beyond our atmosphere, precision in time management becomes not just a technical challenge, but an essential requirement for success in the infinite cosmos.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: establish time standard Moon



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