March 30, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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The moon may get its own time zone

What time is it on the moon?

Since the dawn of the space age, the answer has been: It depends. For decades, lunar missions have operated on the time of the country that launched them. But with so many lunar explorations heading towards the launch pad, the European Space Agency has deemed the current system unsustainable.

the solution, the agency said last weekis a lunar time zone.

“ESA is not taking the lead in this discussion, we are just putting a finger on a problem that we need to address,” said Brice DeLandrea, an engineer at the European Space Agency. “But this is the kind of issue that needs international coordination and consensus.”

The European Space Agency said that the main goal of creating a global lunar timekeeping system is to simplify communication between the various countries and entities, public and private, that coordinate trips to and around the moon.

The debate about how to do this is happening as things are starting to get busy on and above the surface of the Moon.

The M1 lunar lander built by the Japanese company Ispace It is scheduled to reach the moon in Aprilwhen you will try to deploy a UAE-built rover; a robot built by the Japanese space agency JAXA; and other payloads.

A six-legged cylindrical robot called the Nova-C lander, built by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, is expected to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Landing on the south pole of the moon in June. Additional unmanned missions will be released by the end of the year, he said Jack BurnsDirector of the Exploration and Space Science Network at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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These missions, among other potential lunar landings, are happening as NASA prepares to send four astronauts into lunar orbit next year. This task will pave the way for First manned moon landing since Apollo 17 in December 1972, and currently planned for 2025.

Meanwhile, the European Space Agency is contributing to NASA’s efforts to build the Gateway lunar station, which will serve as a way station for future crews on their way to the lunar surface. Last year, China completed construction of its own space station and previously hinted that Chinese astronauts will be on the moon by 2030. South Korea launched its lunar rover, Danori, on a SpaceX Falcon rocket from Florida in August. It joined India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission, as well as spacecraft from NASA and China, in orbit around the Moon.

With increased exploration comes the potential for miscommunication.

“Not only will these missions be on or around the Moon at the same time, but they will also interact frequently — potentially relaying communications to each other, conducting joint observations or carrying out rendezvous operations,” the European Space Agency said in a statement. For all of these interactions to occur smoothly, the agency said, missions would need to operate at a standard time.

“The idea of ​​lunar timekeeping is important because it shows the international evolution of the moon,” said Dr. Burns. “Precise timekeeping has been the key to navigation on Earth, and it is the key to navigation between the Earth and the Moon.”

The European Space Agency said a global system for timekeeping the moon was needed, but many details still needed to be worked out. One question that has not yet been settled, the agency said, is whether lunar time should be set to the moon or synchronized with Earth.

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Time on Earth is precisely tracked by atomic clocks, but synchronizing time on the Moon is difficult because clocks run much faster there, gaining about 56 microseconds, or millionths of a second, per day.

Dr. Burns said that once a new time zone is established for the moon, the methods used to create it will be useful for future space exploration. Astronauts could go to Mars in the next two to three decades, he said, and would face similar logistical hurdles that a time zone on Mars would address.

“We’re going to be a civilization of exploration where we’re going to explore beyond Earth’s orbit,” said Dr. Burns. “We will go to the moon and then to Mars after that.”

Kenneth Chang Contribute to the preparation of reports.