LTC – Moon’s timezone

According to the memorandum published recently by the White House’s representative responsible for the science and technology policy, the Moon will have its time zone or better said – its own time.

The reason for the introduction of time specific to the Moon – “Lunar Time Coordinated” (LTC) is the planned increase in robotic as well as manned missions to the Moon and its surface in the coming years. The upcoming permanent presence on the lunar surface will also require a separate independent time system that will be related to the Earth Time System (UTC), but at the same time independent of Earth time.

Thus, LTC will not depend on the terrestrial time system, but will of course be closely connected with it so that it is possible to accurately determine the time at a given place on the surface of the Moon and simply convert it to the time on Earth at the desired location – that is, it will be related to terrestrial time at based on mathematical calculation. This time system will also be linked with the future planned time system for other planetary bodies in the Solar System and will serve for better and more accurate coordination within interplanetary missions – also robotic, but also potentially manned.

Orion spacecraft orbiting the Moon. Image credit: NASA.

When we look at the current way of measuring time on the Moon, after a thorough analysis, we find that the time measurement, just like on Earth, is not accurate in the gravitational and planetary conditions of the Moon – the clock on the Moon will lose 58.7 microseconds per day. This can cause significant problems in the future. For example – when we consider huge data transfers, navigation, precise positioning, topography, mission coordination, and so on. NASA’s new lunar program (Artemis), lunar programs of other countries (e.g. China), and the increase of robotic missions by private companies and other institutions, especially in today’s digital world, will require much more accurate timekeeping on the moon. Compared to the NASA Apollo program, this time it will no longer be about the “conquest” of the Moon, but about the permanent presence of people on its surface and in its orbit (the new NASA Lunar Gateway space station, orbiting the Moon).

The solution to this problem and the proposal to create the LTC will be managed by NASA in close cooperation with other US federal agencies, research centers, and international institutions. The desired date for the start of operation of the LTC time system for the Moon was set at the end of 2026.

Dr. Jozef Kozár


You can find this article also published in the newspaper SME, section science/tech blog.

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Jozef Kozár, PhD (July 15, 2024) LTC – Moon’s timezone. Retrieved from
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Dr. Jozef Kozár

Author, Research Scientist, Consultant.

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