Heavens Above


Eyes turn to the skies this week as the Sun is eclipsed. Millions across Mexico, the USA and Canada – clouds permitting – will have the best views this phenomenon. However, as the Moon appears to move across the face of the Sun, how many will wonder if time on the Moon is exactly the same as that on Earth?

NASA has been tasked by the US government to create a unified time standard for the Moon –  an international standard being considered imperative as more nations and private companies engage in a new Space Race.

This is arguably not the only agreement that must be reached.

In recent years a series of ‘Accords’ have been adopted by those nations investing in space. These accords are extensions of the ‘Outer Space Treaty signed in October 1967. The treaty presents principles for space exploration and operation: Space activities are for the benefit of all nations, and any country is free to explore orbit and beyond. There is no claim for sovereignty in space; no nation can “own” space, the Moon or any other body.

It was – and is – surely a wonderful aim.

Yet already certain countries dominate space. And where exactly IS space? Some say it begins 80km above Earth’s atmosphere, others 100km (the Karman line). What about the gap between these two imaginary borders?

What happens if satellites orbiting in this ‘gap’, but belonging to different countries providing essential data services to their respective nations collide? Who is responsible?

Does the Outer Space Treaty require radical overhaul?

A quick look at the heliocentric positions of the planets at its inception (surely the best perspective for this exercise), reveals Mercury and Mars at 0 Aquarius – the exact degree now being transited by Pluto. Pluto always demands re-invention, ref-formatting, re-viewing, re-planting etc etc.

Calls for a RE-vised Treaty will surely reach crescendo by the close of 2024.