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White house orders NASA to develop new time zone for moon

white house orders nasa to develop new time zone for moon

The White House has assigned NASA to develop a new moon time zone by 2026 to aid in establishing global space standards. 

The direction to set up a lunar time zone comes amid growing global interest for humanity to establish a long-term presence on the moon in the coming years — a chief priority of NASA’s Artemis program.

The new lunar standard, called “Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC),” is part of a broader effort to “establish time standards at and around celestial bodies other than Earth,” according to an April 2 memo by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). 

It was not immediately clear whether the moon would have multiple time zones, as Earth does.

“U.S. leadership in defining a suitable standard — one that achieves the accuracy and resilience required for operating in the challenging lunar environment — will benefit all spacefaring nations,” the memo stated.

The lower gravity on the moon causes slightly faster time movement, posing challenges for future missions, communication, and accurate satellite and crew position tracking. 

“As NASA, private companies, and space agencies around the world launch missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond, it’s important that we establish celestial time standards for safety and accuracy,” Steve Welby, the OSTP deputy director for national security, said in a statement.

On Earth, time is measured by numerous atomic clocks in various locations. A similar ensemble of atomic clocks on the moon may be used for lunar timekeeping. 

Space agencies use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for astronauts on the International Space Station, while NASA uses “Spacecraft Event Time” for key mission events on spacecraft.

The space agency is collaborating with international experts to propose recommendations for a lunar reference frame and time systems to establish LTC on the moon.”

NASA’s Artemis program aims to send humans to the moon by September 2026, three months ahead of LTC’s deadline, with China and India announcing similar missions.


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