What time is it on the moon? Towards the creation of a lunar time zone

With an increasing number of lunar missions planned over the next few years, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that talks have begun to create a lunar time zone.

This approach aims to make it easier to coordinate the missions of different space agencies and to allow spacecraft to determine their location independently of Earth, the space agency explains in a press release.

The latter has also created a program called Moonlight, which aims to create a constellation of navigation and telecommunications systems around the Moon.

Other satellites are also expected to be deployed by other agencies over the next few years, hence the need for a common time zone.

So discussions took place in order to create a technological architecture called LunaNet, which would set a standard for protocols associated with lunar navigation and communication systems.

“It’s a similar concept to one created on Earth with GPS and Galileo,” explains one of the leaders of the Moonlight Initiative, Javier Ventura-Traverset. In the lunar context, we have the opportunity to agree on our approach even before the systems are implemented.

So far, every lunar mission uses antennas to ensure that the stopwatches onboard are synchronized with Earth’s time zone.

“This modus operandi is not sustainable in a future lunar environment,” the statement said.

The new method of tracking will make it possible to more precisely locate the devices of various space agencies.

“This will maintain links to and from Earth, and guide them around the Moon,” adds Wael El Daly, Moonlight program system engineer. Also, Moonlight would need a common, common time scale to connect different missions and fix different situations in space. “

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One problem for ESA is that clocks run faster on the Moon than on Earth, gaining 56 microseconds per day.

The speed also varies on the surface of the moon and in orbit.

The ASE does not say when a decision will be made to set the lunar time zone.

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