Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

NASA is desperate to figure out time on the Moon – here’s why

Published May 30th, 2024 7:04PM EDT
moon surface, moon dust
Image: helen_f / Adobe

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

NASA has big plans for the Moon. The space agency wants to build a lunar base and use it as a launching point for other deep space missions. But before we can do all that, we really need to understand how time on the Moon passes.

Time is one of those really quirky things that changes a lot depending on where you go. Here on Earth, time passes slightly faster atop mountains. While those seconds might only tick a little bit faster, every minuscule second can count when you’re talking about long-distance operations like those we expect to have going on on the Moon.

In comparison, though, time on the Moon passes a bit differently. One Earth day on the Moon takes roughly 56 microseconds less time than it does here on Earth. That’s a tiny number, sure, but over time, it can lead to some pretty big inconsistencies. This is why NASA—and others—are desperate to figure out how time works on our planet’s satellite.

nasa next-generation spacesuits in use on MoonImage source: NASA

Scientists don’t want to just make a new time zone for the Moon. Sure, some scientists have called for that, but NASA wants to go deeper. Instead, NASA wants to create a new method of tracking time on the Moon altogether. The hope is to implement a system like that by the end of 2026, a Whitehouse memo shows. This is the same year that NASA plans to put humans back on the Moon with the Artemis III mission.

Having a good framework in place to track time on the Moon will be crucial to ensuring that operations on the lunar surface stay consistent. Astronauts will be conducting important tests, carrying out scientific missions across the lunar surface, and even communicating with Earth. Time needs to be relative for those astronauts. Otherwise, the inconsistencies could make things even trickier.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.