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Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 08:22 IST

White House Directs NASA to Establish Standard Time For Moon, India to Play Key Role in Execution

White House's Arati Prabhakar has directed the American space agency to formulate a plan to setting up a Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) by the end of 2026

Reported by: Digital Desk
Intuitive Machines private moon lander launch
NASA to create time standard for the moon | Image:Intuitive Machines
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Washington: In a bid to establish a set of international guidelines in space, the White House on Tuesday has instructed the NASA to create a uniform standard time for all celestial bodies, including the moon, as the lunar race among countries and private companies heat up, Reuters reported. In a big breakthrough, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Arati Prabhakar has directed the American space agency to formulate a plan to setting up a Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) by the end of 2026, Reuters reported, citing a memo.

Time in space, including moon and other celestial bodies, varies drastically as compared to Earth due to differing gravitational forces among other factors. Due to this, USA aims to establish an LTC that would serve as the benchmark for future lunar and spacecraft missions as they are dependent on precise timings for their operations. Prabhakar had pointed out that a clock based on earth would lose approximately 58.7 microseconds per Earth day, which would be one of the myriad factors that would increase the Moon and Earth time difference, the memo accessed by Reuters stated.

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NASA's space communications and navigation chief Kevin Coggins told Reuters that just as atomic clocks in the US Naval Observatory serve as the heartbeat for the nation, the moon would also require the same. He added that an earth-based clock will work at a different pace on the moon. With US planning to send its astronauts to moon in future under the Artemis program, the proposal for an LTC assumes even bigger importance. Quoting another OSTP official, the Reuters reported that without an LST, data transfers, communication among astronauts, earth and satellites will be disrupted.

As per the OSTP memo, the LTC has to be executed after holding several rounds of consultations with the 36 nations that have signed the Artemis Accords. It is pertinent to note that India had recently joined the Artemis Accords when PM Narendra Modi visited USA last year. On the other hand, other big players in the space agency, namely China and Russia, are not part of the Artemis Accords.

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Published April 3rd, 2024 at 08:22 IST

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