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The ISS crew celebrated Thanksgiving today.

Apparently the ISS uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time.

What timezone would people use for interstellar travel?

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    $\begingroup$ just fixed my typo/wrong word. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 3:23
  • $\begingroup$ looks good, thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 3:39
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    $\begingroup$ Interstellar travel is speculative enough that it's difficult to give an answer to this. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Technically, UTC isn't equivalent to GMT. There is no GMT, officially, any more: it was based on a specific kind of observation at a specific place. Those observations are no longer carried out. GMT had no leap seconds and did not proceed at exactly one SI second per GMT second. $\endgroup$
    – John Doty
    Commented Jun 3 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Why would there be a unique choice? We use lots of time scales on Earth. $\endgroup$
    – John Doty
    Commented Jun 3 at 17:30

3 Answers 3

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I suspect any interstellar travel will have relativistic effects (it's a factor of even interplanetary travel), the only reasonable timezones are EMET and OMET -- Experienced and Observed Mission Elapsed Times which would have the departure date as its epoch. When these timezones are converted (by adding the epoch) EMET would be somewhat earlier than Zulu time, and OMET would be significantly later.

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The original question

What timezone would be used for interstellar travel?

is hard to answer, because it's not really relevant. With one-way transmission times of years, everything will be automatically recorded. There's no two-way communication in real time, no "ground crew" has to be awake when a message comes in.

That said, pulsars or other stellar observable sources of periodic signals could be used as reference time sources in interstellar space, assuming that we're not traveling too awfully far (beyond known pulsars).

To learn more about how that can be done, see answers to:

And for travel within the solar system and perhaps outside it but within one-way data transfer range, see:

And even closer to home:

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  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh if you want to write an answer, write one. completely rewriting someone else's answer isn't right $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Jun 3 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @ErinAnne 1) I didn't rewrite - I supplemented but left the original answer essentially in place. 2) Improving other posts is a mainstay of SE. There is an SE concept considered "vandalism" but I don't think this quite gets there. 3) The author can simply roll back the edit if they are unhappy with it. 4) I'm a subscriber of the "teach to fish" > "give a fish" approach in SE. Rather than silent down voting or voting to delete as "not an answer" or commenting "You should x, y, z" sometimes (in my experience) it's much more helpful to just demonstrate to .a user how their post can be improved. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 3 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @axd What do you think? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 3 at 21:20
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I think it will be either UTC(If international) Or the country's command center time zone, as the Space Shuttle, Mercury, Apollo, and other USA missions had Houston Time, and Russian missions, like Vostok, Luna and other Russian missions used Mission Control time zone. So here are the answers I think:

  1. International will have UTC
  2. 1 country missions will have Mission Control time.

Sources: In the book "Spaceman" By Massimo he described how he used houston time aboard the space shuttle, as his EVA was in the morning.

Other spacecraft are from book The NASA archives book(USA), other books by astronauts(Russian), and Movie "Living In Space" about the iss by astronauts(ISS).

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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide a reference showing that shuttle missions used Houston time onboard? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ In the book "Spaceman" By Massimo he described how he used houston time aboard the space shuttle, as his EVA was in the morning. $\endgroup$
    – Leo
    Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble - I suspect Leo is using "used" in the context of when the crew were scheduled to sleep, eat, work, etc., as opposed to "used" in the context of the Earth-based time system used to coordinate these activities, timetag data and commands, etc. When launch time and landing time allowed it, non-ISS shuttle flights tended to have the crew's daily cycle be in sync with time in Houston rather than time in Greenwich. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ Other spacecraft are from book The NASA archives book(USA), other books by astronauts(Russian), and Movie "Living In Space" about the iss by astronauts(ISS). These are all credible sources. I dont get why is this voted down. $\endgroup$
    – Leo
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Leo Sources need to be included in the text of the answer itself, not in comments. Comments on Stack Exchange are temporary. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Dec 1, 2020 at 16:30

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