Why is this “lunar time” necessary?
People need the concept of time to organize things and the ability to live in an organized way. We divided that time into 24 hours on Earth because our planet takes a long time to rotate on its axis. But the moon takes longer: 29 days, to be exact. On Monday, it is also dark for two weeks and light for two weeks. That is why we simply cannot use our “earthly” time there. So we have to look for a specialized “lunar time”. If we one day want to stay on the moon for a longer period of time – or even live there – we must now have very clear agreements about this.”
So we can’t apply the well known Coordinated Universal Time + 0 – calculating time on Earth?
That would be helpful, but no. Time is very different for each planet due to the physical laws prevailing there. The first ‘new people’ should end up on the moon in a completely new time zone.”
What would “moon time” look like then?
There are a lot of possibilities, but I especially wonder if they will break the new calendar into concepts we already know, like days and hours. Multiply that by 24 and you get 696 days. So, a day on the moon lasts about 700 hours.” It’s a quarter to 450. “Sounds a bit abstract.”
How do we do that on other planets?
“Only Mars has its own time calculation. We mainly calculate in Martian days, which is called SOL. The red planet rotates on its axis in 24 and a half hours. Even if it’s only half an hour in a day, we’re wrong about that. You’d be shocked at how difficult it is to experience Astronauts on this day SOL. People simply need a 24-hour system, or we’ll be left behind. That’s why they use the lights on the International Space Station to simulate day and night. I wonder how they would do that on the Moon.”
Is there a rush to decide on that time on the moon?
“Yeah, a little bit. I think Elon Musk’s SpaceX will be the first to reach the moon in a few years. By then, there should be clearly internationally approved and signed agreements. Otherwise, the first company to land will be able to choose its own number.
I think those international discussions should work. Finally, in 1884, we also agreed on Greenwich Mean TimeAnd which we still use. So for now I hope that countries can put aside their mutual differences for a while. Well, it’s not so much governments but the big space agencies that need to sit around the table. I think of the United States, Japan, Russia and China, but also the European Space Agency, the European Space Agency.
Don’t conflicts and tensions between some of those countries make it more difficult?
Maybe in some areas, but not at all in others. Do not forget that now different space agencies are also cooperating in many areas. For example, we’re working internationally on unmanned space probes.
Russia also has agreements and partnerships with almost the whole world when it comes to spacecraft. Russian cosmonauts coexist peacefully with other cosmonauts on the International Space Station. If there’s one agency that’s going to be difficult, it’s China.”
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