Why space experts want to establish a lunar time zone

(Image credit: Thomas Marx/Getty Images)

You've heard of island time ... but get ready for lunar time.

Experts believe the moon may need its own time zone as part of the current rise in celestial expeditions, Axios reports.

"As dozens of missions will be operating on and around the moon and needing to communicate together and fix their positions independently from Earth, this new era will require its own time," the European Space Agency (ESA) said Monday, adding that, until now, each moon mission has "been operated on its own timescale exported from Earth."

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The ESA is reportedly collaborating with other space agencies including NASA in a "joint international effort" to determine what a lunar time zone might look like. But such a project could prove rather difficult, seeing as clocks on the moon tick slightly faster than on Earth, reports Axios. "This will be quite a challenge on a planetary surface where in the equatorial region each day is 29.5 days long, including freezing fortnight-long lunar nights, with the whole of Earth just a small blue circle in the dark sky," explained Bernhard Hufenbach, part of ESA's Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration.

Experts are unsure whether one space agency should set and maintain the lunar time. "The international community will also have to settle on a common 'selenocentric reference frame,'" writes the ESA, referring to the International Terrestrial Reference Frame, which allows for the "consistent measurement of precise distances between points across our planet."

If scientists are able to establish "a working time system for the moon, we can go on to do the same for other planetary destinations," commented Hufenbach.

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