What time is it on the Moon? ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธ


A new era of lunar exploration is on the rise, with dozens of Moon missions planned for the coming decade. As these missions will be operating on and around the Moon and needing to communicate together and fix their positions independently from Earth, this new era will require its own time.

Accordingly, space organisations have started considering how to keep time on the Moon. Having begun with a meeting at our technology centre in the Netherlands on November 2023, the discussion is part of a larger effort to agree a common โ€˜LunaNetโ€™ architecture covering lunar communication and navigation services.

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  1. That clocks run faster on the moon and at different speeds depending on location seems like a problem that can be corrected for, and should happen regardless of which time system you implement on the moon. You're probably going to have some communication/navigation satellite constellation around the moon that can provide time and location, just like GPS does on Earth.

    You could have a time system based on the lunar day, which is 29.5 Earth days, but since it makes no sense to divide this in to 24 hours, or any other arbitrary number, you might as well use a metric time system. I don't see how a time system based on the lunar day would be useful for humans. On the ISS you have 16 day/night cycles per day, and it still uses UTC.

    For humans using UTC on the moon is probably the easiest, because you still want to work and sleep in a 24 Earth hour cycle, and it also makes it the easiest to coordinate with mission control on Earth. And if you use it for human missions, you might as well use UTC for all lunar missions, and use it as the official time system for the moon.

  2. There is such a thing as 'time keeping' on Mars and it involves a calendar that has something like 16 or so months, and Mars has about 25 hours in a day (known as a sol) and a Martian year is about 2 Earth years roughly. You on this clip are talking about applying Earth's time-zones on the Moon, which would probably be UTC; which is good for communication with Earth and synchronization etc…. but you could also have Lunar time, where a lunar month is one sol (a lunar day) which would make a lunar day about 29 Earth days long; and this would be very difficult to separate in units like hours and minutes or seconds; and lunar months would not even be possible as then you cannot have years unless they relate to Earth's orbit around the sun. It can get very weird, but fun-weird!

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