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How should the builders watch the time?

  Person in a space looking at a clock surrounded by stars inspired by Matisse's Icarus.

Lisa Larson-Walker [19659004] There will be crime in the room. How will we handle it?

On July 10, Future Tense and JustSpace Alliance will hold an event titled "How Do We Control Us in Space?" In Washington. For more information, to RSVP, and to see the live stream, visit the site New America .

We seem to be in the lead of an era where people live outside this light blue dot. According to some newly leaked NASA documents, the agency hopes to build a lunar base by 2028. This solution will allow us to test the skills and tools we will be trying to make to Mars, NASA says, and who knows where we are going from there.

There are serious technical obstacles to establishing space buildings and long-term durable flights: How will people grow food? What happens to our waste? But there are also scary, logistical ones that we take for granted here on Earth. One of the first things we need to find out is how to keep track of time.

The solution may seem straightforward: Just take a clock and a calendar, and mark the days! And yes, the only full-time collection – the International Space Station – handles things. The crew of ISS operates at Greenwich Mean Time, and through their close contact with Earth you get updates at the time.

But there are challenges to keeping space dwellers on a grounded time-saving system. One is practical by using a time-saving system that ignores your local reality. Keeping the astronauts on a 24-hour GMT-based system makes things easier for ground control, but trying to keep the earth's hours taking a wagon on astronaut's sleep as their circadian rhythms are thrown off the relatively unpredicted light cycle: the ISS Earth circuits every 90 minutes, So during a typical 24-hour land "day", the crew sees 16 sunrises and sunsets.

While astronauts can get into space for months at a time, there is an imprecision in an ISS office; We know they will not be up there forever. Space builders establish bases further afield, perhaps adopt earth time and calendars while starting a new society, but as time goes on, they may have a more permanent solution tailored to their lives.

Astronomers, science-fiction writers and enthusiastic hobbyists have presented a number of proposals for new time-saving systems for potential space inventories. Mars has particular intrigue for those who dream of space rules; It is far enough to imagine that settlers would be there for a long time and would develop their own systems. Thomas Gangale, the creator of the Darian calendar, made his design in 1985 and has since been used in several sci-fi books, including Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief and Star Trek ] novel series Department of Temporal Investigations, which chronicles the adventure of an agency investigating time travel. "If we are going to send people to Mars and settle down, they must count the time for the natural rhythms on the planet," Gangale says. His system adapts our traditional ground-time methods to Mars's rotation and the solar circuit. While the earth rotates once every 23 hours and 56 minutes, Mars rotation is a little longer: a marsh day is just shy 24 hours and 40 minutes, a device astronomers call a sun. March & # 39; s circuits are about twice as long as the Earth's: It takes 687 days for our 365, which reaches 668 suns.

We could just leave time measurement on the sun level, and some Mars calendar suggestions actually suggest that. On Earth, the Julian calendar assigns, on every day of the earth, a number that counts from 1 January 4713 BC as "Day 0", making it easier to calculate day-based milestones as food use dates. (Julian date in July 2019 is in 2,458,600s.) A Mars sun-based calendar would work the same way, counting on a "Day 0". Gangale may say that we could assume that the start of a Martian calendar would be the date of Galileo's first telescopic observation of Mars in January 1610. Or maybe Day 0 could coincide with other important Mars milestones that Mariner 4's first successful airfield of the planet (July 14, 1965) or March 2's first surface landing (November 27, 1971).

But we humans are creatures of habit and will probably build societies that center around some of the same values ​​and traditions we have here on Earth. "Many astronomers fail to consider societal aspects of keeping time; they are all focused on astronomy," Gangale says. "But it's important that it's people and how they spend time."

We will probably have weeks and monthly goals to keep an eye on social and socio-economic milestones: holidays, birthdays, pay days, weekends, quarterly investor reports, vacation planning, agriculture. Gangale said he originally entertained the idea of ​​synchronizing Mars months to the movement of his moons, the way Earth's months are tied to the moon's 27-day course, but it was not practical: Phobos orbits Mars three times a day, and Deimos completes its circuit once every 30 hours – "too short for use as a basis for dividing the year into usable fractions," says Gangale. Instead, he broke up the year (the one corresponding to 668 soil days) for 24 months with 27 or 28 suns each, and each month has four seven days weeks. The days of the week are named after celestial bodies in our solar system; Monthly names alternate between Latin and Sanskrit names for zodiac signs.

The new day and month names are fun, but also functional. By using different names, Mars settlers would avoid confusion with the earth time, "which will be important as you have to trade back and forth," Gangale says. Tuesday on Mars would not always fall at the same time as Tuesday on Earth; January on one planet could be March on the other. As a martial day is a "sun," future settlers can come up with different expressions of "month" and "year" for full differentiation from Earth's system.

Individual settlements can develop their own conventions according to local constraints. Gangale has adapted the Darian calendar to Jupiter's moons Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europe, and Saturn's Moon Titan, which could be humanity's next outpost across Mars. For settlers living closer to home, the nonprofit group LunarClock.org recommends Lunar Standard Time and Lunar Calendar, where a year consists of 12 "days" (comparable to ground months), each named for a person who has gone on the moon, broken up into 30 "bikes" (comparable to Earth's days) in 24-month hours.

The second challenge faced by settlers in developing alternatives to earth time is actually to keep the time. Time on Earth is standardized by incredibly stable atomic clocks that kill with just one second every 15 billion years. Unfortunately, they are the size of refrigerators. Spacecraft aboard time using ultra-stable oscillators that allow spacecraft to plan and perform maneuvers, but "they're not ultra-stable – they run over time," says Jill Seubert, NASA's deep space navigator. (I dare find a better job title than Seubert's.) The first ultra-stable oscillator, or USO, was used on the Voyager probes in the 1970s and they are still in satellites today. Even during an Earth Day, these satellites must be recalibrated to ensure that technologies such as GPS are as accurate as possible. Being at just a millionth of a second can mean a GPS deviation of hundreds of meters.

Currently, engineers are taking this problem by translating between precise earth time and the spacecraft's USO time readings. But as we get deeper into space or need to perform more immediate maneuvers, it will quickly become cumbersome depending on the time of the earth. While the layers between Earth and Moon are only about one second, these balloons will between seven and 22 minutes between here and Mars, depending on the relative positions of the two planes, which vary throughout its orbit. Seubert is the Deputy Chief Scientist of a team of NASA engineers at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, building the first deep space atomic clock. "Currently, all spacecraft out there is navigated through the deep space by people on Earth; we calculate the path resolution on the ground and upload it to the spacecraft," says Seubert. Instead of relying on communication with Earth, spacecraft could carry their own atomic clocks so that they could hold more precise local time, which in turn allowed them to calculate their own locations and perform maneuvers without the help of the home. At the end of June, the deep space atomic clock drove into the space aboard a SpaceX rocket; Beginning in August, JPL researchers will evaluate the watch for a year to determine its stability.

Furthermore, it will be necessary for other technologies needed for a space colony, both as time-saving and for local GPS. Sci-fi movies often show astronauts running around the moon or Mars surface with a map screen showing their progress. Currently, this is not possible, but a deep space atomic clock could provide enough time and space to support this real-time tracking.

So far, most of the room's time-saving ideas that are flopped have been modeled on what we do here on Earth. It may not be practical, but perhaps the settlers will take the opportunity to leave our planet to devise completely new conventions. We were able to abolish weeks, months and years mainly, instead listening to just local days, such as the star system used in Star Trek or Mars Sun-based calendar. Or more radically, space-builders may want to follow the Arctic city of Sommarøy to completely abolish the time. With months of darkness and months of sunlight, these Norwegian citizens lack typical signals associated with a "day". It will probably also be felt that there is room for travelers on year-long trips or settlers in new countries. In an interview with Gizmodo, Sommarøy citizen Kjell Ove Hveding talked about the tyranny of the clock. "You have to go to work and even after work the clock takes your time," he said. "I have to do that, I have to. My experience is that [people] forgot to be impulsive, to decide that the weather is good, the sun is shining, I can only live." In the room, the sun cannot shine, and The weather must not be good, but our exploration rides on the same home: that we just want to live.

Future Voltage
is a partnership of
New America and
Arizona State University
exploring new technologies, public policy and society.

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