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July 10, 2019 @ 11:42 pm

Marking Time and William Shatner’s The UnXplained # 260

How to keep track of time in space, William Shatner’s new mystery series, The UnXplained premiers this month, and a couple of sightings from one of our listeners.


The Question

In the movie, Edge of Tomorrow, aliens are able to manipulate time by forcing humans to relive the same day. If aliens are able to manipulate time, do you think it would be localized or would it affect all of space-time?


The UFO community still believes — and science is starting to listen

We appear to be on the cusp of an era where humans live outside this pale blue dot. According to some newly leaked NASA documents, the agency hopes to build a moon base by 2028.

There are serious technical hurdles to establishing space settlements and enduring long-term flights: How will humans grow food? What happens to our waste? But there are also squishier, logistical ones that we take for granted here on Earth. One of the first things we’ll need to figure out is how to keep track of time.

The solution might seem straightforward: just bring a watch and a calendar, and mark off the days! And yes, this is how the only full-time space settlement—the International Space Station—handles things. The crew of the ISS operates on Greenwich Mean Time and, via their close contact with Earth, gets updates on the time.

GMT For Space

But there are challenges to keeping space dwellers on an Earth-bound time-keeping system. One is the practicality of using a time-keeping system that ignores your local reality. Keeping astronauts on a 24-hour, GMT-based system makes things easier for ground control, but trying to keep Earth hours takes a toll on astronauts’ sleep, as their circadian rhythms are thrown off by the comparatively erratic light cycle: The ISS orbits Earth every 90 minutes, so over the course of a typical 24-hour Earth “day,” the crew sees 16 sunrises and sunsets.

Astronomers, science-fiction writers, and enthusiastic hobbyists have presented a range of proposals for new time-keeping systems for potential space settlements. Mars has particular intrigue to those dreaming of space settlements. Thomas Gangale, creator of the Darian calendar, came up with his design in 1985. “If we’re going to send people to Mars and settle it, they’ll need to reckon time according to the natural rhythms of the planet,” Gangale says. His system adapts our traditional Earth time-keeping methods to the rotation and solar orbit of Mars. While Earth rotates once every 23 hours and 56 minutes, Mars’ rotation is slightly longer: A Martian day is just shy of 24 hours and 40 minutes, a unit astronomers call a sol. Mars’ solar orbit is about twice as long as Earth’s: It takes 687 Earth days to our 365, which comes to 668 sols.

What's In A Day

We could just leave time measurement at the sol level, and in fact, some Mars calendar proposals suggest that. On Earth, the Julian calendar assigns each Earth day a number, counting up from Jan. 1, 4713 B.C., as “Day 0,” which makes it easier to calculate day-based milestones like use-by dates for food. A Mars sol-based calendar would work similarly, counting up from a “Day 0” we’d need to decide on.

Currently, engineers take care of this issue 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 instantaneous maneuvers, depending on Earth time would quickly become cumbersome. While the lag between Earth and the moon is only about a second, that balloons to between seven and 22 minutes between here and Mars, depending on the relative positions of the two planets, which varies over the course of its orbits.

Seubert is the deputy principal investigator of a team of NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory building the first deep space atomic clock. “Right now, every spacecraft out there through deep space is being navigated by people on Earth; we compute the trajectory solution on Earth and upload it to the spacecraft,” says Seubert. Instead of relying on communications with Earth, spacecraft could carry their own atomic clocks, enabling them to keep more precise local time, which will in turn allow them to compute their own locations and execute maneuvers without help from back home.

In late June, the deep space atomic clock hitched a ride into space aboard a SpaceX rocket; beginning in August, JPL scientists will evaluate the clock for a year to determine its stability.

GPS Issues

Plus, it will be necessary for other technologies necessary for a space colony, both as a time keeper and for local GPS. Sci-fi movies often show astronauts driving around on the lunar or Mars surface with a map screen showing their progress. Currently, that’s not possible, but a deep space atomic clock could provide precise enough time and location to support that real-time tracking.

So far, most of the space time-keeping ideas floated have been modeled on what we do here on Earth. It may not be practical, but perhaps settlers will take the opportunity of leaving our planet to devise entirely new conventions.

Story was written by Jane C. Hu

More here:

The Unxplained: History Launches Anthology Series, Hosted by EP William Shatner

HISTORY will premiere the nonfiction series “The UnXplained,” hosted and executive produced by Golden Globe® and Emmy Award® winning actor William Shatner (Star Trek, “Boston Legal”) on Friday, July 19 at 10pm ET/PT. The eight-episode, one-hour anthology series will tackle subjects that have mystified mankind for centuries, from mysterious structures and cursed ancient cities to extraterrestrial sightings and bizarre rituals. 

“I’m thrilled to be hosting and producing the new HISTORY series ‘The UnXplained” said Shatner. “It’s an intriguing show that will offer viewers credible answers to questions about mysterious phenomena, while also leaving other theories left unexplained.”

From Executive Producer Kevin Burns, the creator and producer of HISTORY’s most popular series, including “Ancient Aliens” and cable’s #1 nonfiction series “The Curse of Oak Island,” “The UnXplained” will explore facts behind the world’s most strange and bizarre mysteries. Hosted by Shatner, the series will also feature contributions from top scientists, historians, engineers and researchers – each seeking to shed light on how the seemingly impossible can happen.

The Line-Up

“The UnXplained” joins HISTORY’s Friday night programming block which includes “Ancient Aliens,” one of the network’s longest running nonfiction series which reached over 80 million total viewers across total day in 2018 and the limited nonfiction series “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” where former intelligence officials break boundaries and perceived government taboo by disclosing information about efforts being made to change government policy surrounding UFO phenomena; and the hit scripted series “Project Blue Book,” from executive producer Robert Zemeckis and recently renewed for season two, based on the true investigations into UFOs and related phenomena conducted by the United States Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s.

Story was written by Doris Elin Salazar at

More here:


Listener Dylan took this image of a UFOImage from Listener Dylan


This sighting is actually a little unusual, in that we didn’t go looking for it, it came to us. This week’s sighting actually contains two sightings from one of our listeners. Dylan is from the Sacramento California area. 

We received our first sighting from Dylan on Jun 8, 2019. "A couple of days ago I saw a green light above someone's house not too many blocks away. All I remember is that it was windy that night. It was there for over six seconds, and it disappeared. It didn't blink or anything. I thought I should tell someone though. "

Sun, Jun 9, 4:42 PM: "I just found out that it is most likely not an alien because that is the direction of the airport."

This was sent to us. Tue, Jun 18 (13 days ago), over his home (which is somewhere in Sacramento County is our guess):

"I found something else.  Do you guys have any idea what it is? If this is a real sighting here is some more information (the time, temperature, and the humidity)."

Picks and Warnings

Rim of the World -


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Opening theme – Alien Syndrome by Monkey Warhol

Closing theme – Be Water by Rettward von Doernberg

Between Segment Audio – Lunar Orbit by Monkey Warhol

Disclaimer audio recorded by Ben Olson –

Featured image -
Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

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