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Kicker: Scheduling on Moon Time

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WORLD Radio - Kicker: Scheduling on Moon Time

Space groups say it’s time to give the moon its own time zone


Moon next to the clock of the old Church Tower of Amersfoort Frank Termeulen via iStock

NICK EICHER, HOST: Time zones can be confusing...as illustrated in this classic West Wing scene:

WEST WING: All right.  What time is it in Tokyo? They're 14 hours ahead. I thought it was 13. Eastern daylight.  Okay so it's almost 11 o'clock in Tokyo. 11 in the morning or 11 in the afternoon?

Now, imagine the challenge of keeping track of what time it is on, say, the moon, especially as missions and personnel from various countries overlap.

The international space station orbits the earth every 90 minutes, so it uses Coordinated Universal Time—or UTC—to manage the different time zones on earth.

But missions to the moon pose additional coordination challenges. So international space organizations agreed last year that there was “an urgent need” to establish a common lunar time reference—making things easier for everyone, something like UTC but on a more interplanetary scale.

And not to rush anyone, but the clock is ticking—so to speak—as manned missions to the moon begin in less than three years. Which is like 37 lunar days…

CHICAGO: Does anyone know what time it is?

It’s The World and Everything in It. …

Thanks, Chicago. That’d be Central Standard Time.


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