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Coordinated Lunar Time


Recently, the US White House officially directed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to create a time standard for the Moon, which different international bodies and private companies can use to coordinate their activities on the lunar surface.


GS III: Science and Technology

Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) Overview

  • Purpose: LTC serves as a precise time-keeping standard for lunar spacecraft, satellites, and lunar missions, ensuring synchronized communication between satellites, astronauts, bases, and Earth.
  • Importance: A unified time standard is crucial for coordinating operations, ensuring transaction reliability, and managing lunar commerce logistics.
Need for LTC:
  • Time Dilation: Due to lower gravity on the Moon, time passes slightly faster compared to Earth.
  • Time Discrepancy: An Earth-based clock on the Moon would lose approximately 58.7 microseconds per Earth day, creating challenges for spacecraft docking, data transfer timing, communication, and navigation.
Earth’s Time Standard – Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
  • Definition: UTC is an internationally recognized time standard based on the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris, France.
  • Measurement: UTC is determined using a weighted average of over 400 atomic clocks worldwide.
Atomic Clocks:
  • Principle: Atomic clocks measure time based on the resonant frequencies of atoms, like cesium-133.
  • Accuracy: A second in atomic time corresponds to 9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium atom, offering high stability and precision.
Time Zone Calculation:
  • Local Time Determination: Countries adjust their local time relative to UTC based on their longitudinal position from the Greenwich meridian (0° longitude).
  • Direction of Adjustment: Countries west of the Greenwich meridian subtract hours from UTC, while those east of the meridian add hours to UTC.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024