Questions for ‘Here’s why the moon must get its own time zone’ 

a photo of the Big Ben clock tower against a pink and purple sky. The moon can be seen near the pinnacle of the tower

We can figure out what time it is anywhere on Earth. But with the moon poised to be a big player in space exploration, scientists now realize they must also define what time it is there.

Romilly Lockyer/The Image Bank/Getty Images Plus

To accompany Here’s why the moon must get its own time zone’  


Before Reading:

  1. What time is it right now? In what time zone are you located? Why do we use time zones? Give one problem we would encounter if every place in the world used exactly the same time zone.
  2. Do a quick internet search to answer the following questions. What is the most accurate clock in the world? What does this clock use to measure time’s passage that most normal clocks do not use?

During Reading:

  1. What time zone have past astronauts used when visiting the moon?
  2. Why did moon-visiting astronauts 50 years ago not need a designated moon time? What will be different about upcoming missions that will make it crucial to have designated moon times? 
  3. To what does UTC refer? State the UTC-based time zone for Paris, France. Is Paris, France, ahead of or behind UTC time? 
  4. What does our circadian cycle do for us?
  5. Which is longer, a moon day or an Earth day? 
  6. What does GPS stand for? How accurate (in meters) is the GPS receiver in a smartphone at determining your position? With what objects must a GPS receiver communicate to determine your position?
  7. What is the name of the special type of clock used by satellites? What is so special about these clocks?
  8. Relative to an Earth clock, will a moon clock tick faster or slower? Explain the role of gravity in this difference.
  9. What is LunaNet?
  10. What two space agencies are working to define moon time?

After Reading:

  1. Imagine you could take two identical stopwatches and put one on Jupiter and keep the other on Earth. You start both simultaneously and let them count the seconds. After 50 years, you compare the times: The reading on the Jupiter stopwatch is about 30 seconds behind the Earth stopwatch. Based on what you’ve read in this story, how can you explain this difference in the passage of time? What does this tell you about the relative gravity on Jupiter and on Earth? Which one is higher?
  2. List three ways that NASA’s LunaNet may help future astronauts. Based on your answers, how important is this technology for future astronauts? Imagine you are part of a group of scientists living on the moon, but you cannot access any LunaNet-type technology. Describe a specific problem you could encounter without having this technology.