There is renewed interest in the moon, now that we are getting closer to rebuilding a footprint on a celestial body. Space agencies and private companies around the world are scheduling their own lunar missions to take place in the coming years, and it can be complicated to coordinate with each other if they use different times. zone. During a meeting at the European Space Agency’s ESTEC technology center in the Netherlands last year, space organizations spoke about “the importance and urgency of determining a common lunar reference time.” In a new announcement, ESA navigation system engineer Pietro Giordano said that a “joint international effort is now being launched to achieve this.”
Currently, the various space organizations still use their own time zones for their onboard chronometers and their two-way communication systems. ESA says doing so is “unsustainable” in the new era of lunar exploration. Missions from different countries will make joint observations, and they may need to communicate with each other even if they are not directly working together if they are on the moon at the same time.
Deciding and keeping lunar time is not easy, however, and it comes with a unique set of challenges. As the ESA says, “precise navigation requires strict timekeeping,” so one of the topics that the international group of space organizations should discuss is whether there should be an organization responsible for maintenance. in the time zone of the month. In addition, they had to decide whether to keep lunar time on Earth or not, since clocks on the moon run faster based on the satellite’s position. While they had many factors to consider, whatever they came up with had to be practical for astronauts orbiting or stepping on the lunar surface eventually.
Bernhard Hufenbach, a member of ESA’s Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration’s Moonlight Management Team, said: “This is a challenge on a planet where in the equatorial region each day is 29.5 days long, including freezing. in the two weeks of lunar nights. , that the whole Earth is just a small blue circle in the dark sky. But having established a system of working hours for the moon, we can also do the as for other destinations on the planet.”
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