White House orders NASA to create time standard for the Moon | Trending Viral hub


The White House on Tuesday ordered NASA to establish a unified weather standard for the Moon and other celestial bodies, as the United States seeks to establish international rules in space amid a growing moon race between nations and private companies.

The head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), according to a memo seen by Reuters, ordered the space agency to work with other parts of the US government to design a plan by the end of 2026 to establish what is called Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC).

Different gravitational forces, and potentially other factors, on the Moon and other celestial bodies change the way time unfolds relative to how it is perceived on Earth. Among other things, the LTC would provide a reference point for timing spacecraft and lunar satellites that require extreme precision for their missions.

“The same clock we have on Earth would move at a different rate on the Moon,” Kevin Coggins, NASA’s head of space navigation and communications, said in an interview.

The memo from OSTP chief Arati Prabhakar said that for a person on the moon, an Earth clock would appear to lose an average of 58.7 microseconds per Earth day and would come with other periodic variations that would further deviate lunar time from Earth time. .

“Think of the atomic clocks at the US Naval Observatory (in Washington). They are the heartbeat of the nation and synchronize everything. You’re going to want a heartbeat,” Coggins said.

Under his Sagebrush program, NASA aims to send astronaut missions to the moon in the coming years and establish a scientific lunar base that could help set the stage for future missions to Mars. Dozens of companies, spacecraft and countries are participating in the effort.

An OSTP official said that without a unified lunar time standard it would be a challenge to ensure that data transfers between spacecraft are secure and that communications between Earth, lunar satellites, bases and astronauts are synchronized.

Discrepancies in timing could also cause errors in mapping and locating positions on the Moon or in its orbit, the official said.

“Imagine if the world didn’t synchronize their clocks at the same time: how disruptive that could be and how challenging everyday things become,” the official said.

On Earth, most clocks and time zones are based on Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC. This internationally recognized standard is based on a vast global network of atomic clocks located in different locations around the world. They measure changes in the state of atoms and generate an average that ultimately constitutes a precise time.

According to the OSTP official, the deployment of atomic clocks on the lunar surface may be necessary.

The official also said 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 trade.

NASA said in January that it had scheduled its first astronaut lunar landing since the end of the Apollo program in the 1970s for September 2026, with a mission that would take four astronauts around the moon and return scheduled for September 2025. .

While the United States is the only country to have sent astronauts to the Moon, others have lunar ambitions. Countries have their eyes on potential mineral resources on the Moon, and lunar bases could help support future crewed missions to Mars and elsewhere.

China said last year that it intends to put its first astronauts on the moon by 2030. Japan in January became the fifth country put a spaceship on the moon. Last year, India became the first country to landing a spaceship near the unexplored lunar south pole, and has announced plans to send an astronaut to the moon by 2040.

“United States leadership in defining an appropriate standard, one that achieves the precision and resilience necessary to operate in the challenging lunar environment, will benefit all space-capable nations,” the OSTP memo states.

Defining how to implement Coordinated Lunar Time will require international agreements, according to the memo, through “existing standards bodies” and among the 36 nations that have signed a pact called the Artemis Accords that involves how countries act in space and on the Moon. . China and Russia, the United States’ two main rivals in space, have not signed the Artemis Accords.

Coordinated universal time could influence how coordinated lunar time is implemented, the OSTP official said. The UN International Telecommunication Union defines Coordinated Universal Time as an international standard.


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