NASA explains why on end-of-year of December 31, 2016, the official clocks around the world has added a leap second just before midnight on coordinated Universal Time.
The adjustment was equivalent to 6:59:59 p.m. EST, it disclosed.
The agency has been very particular of the exact time, making sure that it is in sync with the actual prevailing rotation of our home planet Earth to the sun.
Earth’s rotation gradually slows down over time, NASA pointed out.
The agency said that when the dinosaurs roamed Earth, for example, the earth took only 23 hours to make a complete rotation. In space, millisecond accuracy is crucial to understanding how satellites orbit.
The adjustment also include NASA missions and in particular its Solar Dynamics Observatory or SDO which keeps vigil of the sun on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Dean Pesnell, the project scientist for SDO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said: “The SDO moves about 1.9 miles every second. So does every other object in orbit near SDO.”
The adjustment and time synchronization will make sure agencies collision avoidance programs (of satellites) are accurate.
The time change is viewed as important by the space agency in its operations and data management and storage time stamp-keeping too.
For one, making the SDO in sync with the Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, images it stores will have correct labels since its mission started.
H/T – NASA text and original image cropped and optimized.