The Jeuns

White House tells NASA to create time standard for moons and planets

April 4, 2024 | by The Jeuns

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently announced plans to establish time standards for the moon and other celestial bodies. This initiative involves creating a unified time standard called Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC), which will be linked to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) used globally on Earth to regulate clocks and time.

According to a press release from the White House, NASA has been directed to collaborate with various departments to develop a strategy to implement LTC by the end of 2026. The new time system must not only synchronize with UTC but also be precise enough to support navigation and scientific activities, resilient in case of lost connection with Earth, and adaptable to environments beyond the Earth-moon system.

This move towards new time standards aims to address Gravitational Time Dilation, a phenomenon where time passes differently under varying conditions of gravity or speed, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Steve Welby, OSTP Deputy Director for National Security, explained that time can seem to pass more slowly near celestial bodies with stronger gravity, like the moon.

Time dilation, though a complex concept, is crucial for daily activities, such as GPS satellites adjusting for time differences due to their motion. As space exploration expands to other planets, understanding time dilation becomes essential for coordinating missions accurately.

Welby emphasized the importance of establishing celestial time standards for safety and precision as NASA, private companies, and space agencies embark on missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. This effort will ensure that timekeeping remains consistent and reliable for future space endeavors.

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