The White House wants NASA to create a time zone for the moon


The White House has tasked NASA with creating a new time zone for the moon by the end of 2026, as part of the United States’ broader goal to establish international norms in space.
The direction to set up a lunar time zone comes amid growing global interest for humanity to establish a long-term presence on the moon in the coming years — a chief priority of NASA’s Artemis program.
It was not immediately clear whether the moon would have multiple time zones, as Earth does.
Because there is lower gravity on the moon than on Earth, time there moves slightly faster — 58.7 microseconds faster every day.
A similar ensemble of atomic clocks on the moon itself may be used for lunar timekeeping.
“It makes sense that when you go to another body, like the moon or Mars, that each one gets its own heartbeat.”
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, which is in low Earth orbit, follow Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
For spacecraft elsewhere, NASA uses “Spacecraft Event Time” to catalog key mission events, like science observations or engine burns.


As part of the US’s larger objective to create international standards in space, the White House has given NASA the mission of establishing a new time zone for the moon by the end of 2026.

The decision to create a lunar time zone coincides with the growing global interest in humanity establishing a permanent presence on the moon in the near future, which is NASA’s top priority for the Artemis program.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memo dated April 2 states that the new lunar standard, known as “Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC),” is a component of a larger initiative to “establish time standards at and around celestial bodies other than Earth.”. The moon might have different time zones than Earth, but this was not immediately apparent.

Related: The moon: All the information you require about the moon, the planet’s companion.

“You. s. All spacefaring nations will gain from leadership in developing a suitable standard, one that achieves the accuracy and resilience needed for operating in the difficult lunar environment, the memo said.

Time on the moon moves 58.7 microseconds faster every day than it does on Earth due to the moon’s lower gravity. That tiny difference would complicate a number of things for mission control, including tracking satellite and crew positions accurately and facilitating communication between the increasingly numerous missions in the future.

“It’s critical that we set celestial time standards for safety and accuracy as NASA, commercial enterprises, and space agencies around the globe launch missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond,” OSTP deputy director for national security Steve Welby stated in a statement.

Numerous atomic clocks are positioned all over the planet to measure time here on Earth. Moon timekeeping could be accomplished with a comparable collection of atomic clocks on the moon.

According to NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program manager Kevin Coggins, “an atomic clock on the moon will tick at a different rate than a clock on Earth.” This was stated to the Guardian. “It makes sense that every body has its own heartbeat, even the moon and Mars. “.”.

There are two methods used by space agencies to maintain time while in orbit. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is observed by astronauts residing in low Earth orbit on board the International Space Station. NASA uses “Spacecraft Event Time” for spacecraft that are not part of its own to record important mission events such as engine burns or science observations.

An approach to provide recommendations to the International Astronomical Union for lunar reference frame and time systems is being discussed by subject matter experts worldwide, according to a space agency statement that was shared with NPR in order to establish lunar time zones. “.”.

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