By Harry Pettit,
CHINESE scientists have proposed a way of telling the time and date that, unlike existing systems, doesn’t rely on Earth or religion.
According to the South China Morning Post, the calendar is designed to help astronauts know what day it is regardless of where they are in the Solar System.
Scientists have proposed a new way to figure out the time and date in space
Scientists have proposed a new way to figure out the time and date in spaceCredit: Alamy
A new standard has become necessary as humans venture into space, researchers wrote in a paper published last month.
It also avoids problems caused by the widely used Gregorian calendar, which is centred around the supposed birth date of Jesus Christ.
“The starting point of time used by the Gregorian calendar that is generally used now is related to religion,” said the team led by experts at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
“A new kind of time rule is needed beyond Earth.”
Telling the time in different parts of the cosmos is no easy feat.
It is tricky to tell the time on Mars, for instance, because you cannot sync it up with Earth as it takes radio signals between three and 22 minutes to travel between the two planets.
To make things even harder, the relative positions and speeds of the two planets are constantly changing, according to the paper.
Using something universal across the Solar System – such as its common centre of mass, or “barycentre” – could provide a solution.
According to the paper, the beginning of time could then be defined as the moment a signal from a pulsar reached the barycentre.
A pulsar is a highly magnetic neutron star that fires out radio signals hundreds of times a second. Scientists have previously proposed using them as signifiers of time in space.
If space agencies were to universally adopt the system, figuring out the time in space could become a whole lot easier.
Currently, calendars use Earth as the centre of the coordinate system and the Greenwich meridian as the reference point.
The year 0 in the widely used Gregorian calendar is taken as the purported birth year of Jesus Christ.
The research was published in the Journal of Electronic Measurement and Instrumentation.(The Sun)