Towards the creation of a lunar time zone?
At the moment, a lunar mission uses the time of the country which is organizing it.
With an unprecedented number of lunar missions on the horizon, the European Space Agency (ESA) wants to give the Moon its own time zone .
The ESA explains that space agencies around the world are considering how best to measure the time on the Moon. The idea was raised at a meeting in the Netherlands last year, and the participants agreed on the urgency of establishing a common reference lunar time.
At the moment, a lunar mission uses the time of the country that organizes it. European space officials believe that a lunar time zone recognized and accepted by all would make life easier for everyone, at a time when more and more countries and even private companies hope to visit the Moon.
< p class="e-p">The American space agency, NASA, had encountered this problem when designing and building the International Space Station, the first module of which will soon be 25 years old.
Although the station does not have its own time zone, it uses Coordinated Universal Time which depends on ultra-accurate atomic clocks. This helps to share the time difference between Canada and the United States on one side, and on the other the Russian, Japanese and European programs that participate in the station.
Researchers will also have to overcome technical problems. Clocks move faster on the Moon than on Earth, gaining about 56 microseconds a day, according to the space agency. Complicating matters further, clocks don't work the same way orbiting the Moon as they do on lunar soil.
But more than anything, it will take lunar time be practical for the astronauts who will use it. NASA hopes to send humans to visit the Moon as early as next year and land there in 2025.
A lunar day can last up to 29, 5 Earth days, so the challenge is daunting. The system invented for the Moon could then be applied to the other planets.