Dec 21, 16 / Cap 20, 00 19:54 UTC
UAT - Universal Asgardian Time ¶
Hi there, I created this topic to discuss the UAT time standard, a possible new convention that could be used by Asgardia as presented in this facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/asgardia.space/posts/1803169369961628.
A lot of people said that we should stick to UTC, which is reasonable considering that where are not going to leave this planet for some decades at least, so using the time that everyone on Earth uses makes sense. However this will become a problem when we'll actually go into space, because UTC is based on Earth's rotation and revolution, and, while it could still be used while in orbit, it'll not be suited for various space operations, like mining expeditions and external outposts. Being an astronomer (to be precise I'm still studying to get the degree, so I'm not quite one hehe) time stardards are something that concern me directly, so thought that it would be a great idea to create, at least, a starting point to develop UAT. When creating a time standard there are various parameters to decide, I'll list them below with a description to explain what they are:
- A zero point (or starting point): This is the point in time to which is assigned the value 0 and from where we start counting time.
- A clock: The thing we use to measure how much time has passed from the zero point at any given instant.
- A frame of reference: The point in space where we place the clock.
- A calendar: How time is partitioned (seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc.).
When it comes to UTC, which is a version of UT, it does not have a defined zero point (in astronomy we use the julian day, which has the zero point at noon of the 1st of January, 4713 BC, don't ask me about the year, astronomers like to complicate things lol), uses a modified version of the TAI standard, which has atomic clocks as, well, clock, and the center of the Earth as its frame of reference, modified because every now and then a second is added to keep it in line with Earth's rotation (the famous leap seconds), and the gregorian calendar is the most used one.
Now that I've explained what is needed for a time standard, I will explain my ideas and thoughts about UAT: it's clear that we should design it so that it can fit our activities outside planet Earth, so we should abandon a lot of things that are tied to Earth's motion to create a slim and functional time standard.
(1) My idea is to have as zero point midnight of a day important for Asgardia, like the October 12th 2016, the day when Asgardia started (I'm not 100% sure about this day, but according to the chronicles Asgardia reached 100k applications after 40 hours of being online, on the 14th), or the day when we will (hopefully) be recognized as nation by the UN or again when the first satellite will be launched, there are a lot of choices here.
(2) As clock an atomic one is the obvious choice, it's the most precise clock that we know of, however I think we should have a "back-up" clock in the event that a ship or outpost loses contact with the main station or Earth or in the case that it isn't fitted with an atomic clock; choosing this secondary clock is difficult to say the least: on Earth you can approximate the time of the day by using the Sun, but in space it's not that easy; maybe a specific pulsar can be chosen for this role, if we know its galactic coordinates we could use an interferometer to calculate time with good enough precision.
(3) As a frame of reference the barycenter of the solar system is good enough until we remain inside it; the problem arises when we get out of it, having an almost "inertial" frame of reference is needed if we want to have the exact time, and the center of rotation of the Milky Way is probably the best choice in my opinion.
(4) For what concerns the calendar, I think we should keep the division of minutes, hours and days, because we are used to it and can facilitate how we schedule work, sleep, etc. however I think that months and years are useless in space: here on Earth having months is useful because you can easily deduce what season you are in and where holidays are placed and years can be used to deduce when the Earth complete a revolution around the Sun; in space there are no seasons or revolutions to take into account, and events such as birthdays or holidays can be easily calculated without them.
That's all, feel free to post your ideas below, in particular I would like to hear what proper astronomers have to say about this (I hope to have made no errors while explaining this, if I have please correct me), lets make this a community effort, having a time standard is extremely important to regulate and coordinate the activities of a nation.
P.S.: I was undecided if opening this topic in Physical sciences or General discussion, I let this decision to the staff.