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  • Writer's pictureDAVID MITLYNG

Weekly Takeaways-April 12,2024

Theme of the Week

Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC)The solar eclipse Monday was impressive, but did you ever want to see it from the moon? Well, some day you may. ChinaUSEuropeJapanIndia, and a host of commercial companies, are part of a new lunar space race. And this time around, they aren’t looking to plant a flag. They want to create a new lunar economy, one that isn’t reliant on lunar tourism. This economy would be fueled by creative business plans including:

To fulfill this vision requires a lot of development. Fortunately, we have already been there, and the rockets, satellites, lunar landers, and comm links have already been demonstrated. One critical missing element: a lunar position, navigation, and timing (PNT) system, grounded by a common lunar time standard (see below). It may not seem important; after all, you won’t need directions in your moon buggy any time soon. But that ignores the most critical function of PNT: time and synchronization. Humans care about position and navigation. But our electronics and networks care about time.This is even more critical on the moon, where large infrastructure is harder to transport and install than smaller, redundant elements that work together. Distributed sensors, databases, and comm networks, and robot swarms only work when they are synchronized.


  • Busy week at another successful Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

  • Preparing a presentation for the Rocky Mountain Photonics Summit & Expo April 18,2024, on "Quantum Time Transfer." Come join us and meet some of the Team. We will be at our table during the EXPO. We will also be looking for new team members so, bring us your resume'.

  •  Also looking ahead at presentations and demos at the Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems and European Navigation Conference.

  • Wrapping up a set of deliverables ahead of a May 28 preliminary design review on a funded project.

  • Working to close out contract negotiations on two other projects with the goal of a May kickoff.

  • New IP and partnerships in development.

Industry News


The More You Know...

It has been nearly 55 years since Neil Armstrong first made "one giant leap for mankind."If Neil had stayed there, "Moon Neil" would have aged one extra second compared to "Earth Neil". This is due to gravitational time dilation, which was originally predicted by Einstein in his general theory of relativity that tied space and time into spacetime. In one day, a clock on the moon runs 58.7 microseconds faster than an Earth clock.This may not seem like much. But in that time light travels nearly 18 km, which, if left uncorrected, is a huge impact to your navigation system. This is why the US government dictated the creation of a new Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) separate from our Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) that includes:"1. Traceability to UTC2. Accuracy sufficient to support precision navigation and science;3. Resilience to loss of contact with Earth; and 4. Scalability to space environments beyond the Earth-Moon system"Other groups, including the European Space Agency, are also working on this. But it is a much harder problem than it first seems.The obvious solution is to try to align LTC and UTC, but that is incredibly difficult across 240,000 miles. And even clocks at different locations on the moon's surface vary widely due to its lumpy gravitational field. A sustained lunar presence requires a dedicated LTC and lunar synchronization network.


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