‘Biden Asks NASA to Determine Moon’s Local Time’

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is working towards establishing a new time standard called “Coordinated Lunar Time” (LTC) by the end of 2026. This move is part of the United States’ efforts to establish a permanent presence on the lunar surface and improve coordination among ongoing Moon missions.

According to OSTP deputy director for national security Steve Welby, the new time standard will address the unique challenges of timekeeping in space. Time passes differently in different parts of space due to varying gravitational conditions, such as near celestial bodies. This means that a second on Earth is different from a second on the Moon. These small differences can add up over time, making precise timekeeping essential for future Moon missions.

The establishment of a new time standard is crucial for space situational awareness, navigation, and communications. In addition to LTC, NASA is also developing an interoperable network called LunaNet for communication and navigation purposes. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is working on a positioning system to provide astronauts with a Moon-based equivalent of GPS.

The timeline for implementing the Coordinated Lunar Time standard remains uncertain, with the first astronauts in almost half a century expected to touch down on the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis 3 mission in September 2026. The establishment of LTC will play a significant role in ensuring the success and accuracy of future Moon missions.

In addition to timekeeping initiatives, NASA’s Artemis Moon astronauts are planning to bring a small greenhouse to the lunar surface, showcasing the continued innovation and exploration taking place on Earth’s closest celestial neighbor.