Science Web Corner I.S.S.N.: 1579-1149

El rincón de la Ciencia         nº 39 (enero-2007)

The Moon ande the Metric Decimal System (RC-97)

M. A. Gómez

English Translation: J. Cantos

This is a English version of the La Luna y el sistema métrico decimal

Most of the countries in the world use the metric decimal system of units and they measure distances in kilometres and metres and masses in grams and kilograms. Nevertheless, there are still  some countries (for instance, the United States) that use the so-called English system in plenty of tasks. In this system, distances are measured in miles and yards and masses, in pounds and ounces. This, which seemingly only represents a disadvantage for tourists and travellers, sometimes causes more serious problems like, for example, when in September, 1999 The Mars Climate Probe smashed in Mars (to see article). The accident happened as the software of the ship had been designed to be employed at a system of units meanwhile the information navigation was later provided with another system.

The NASA does not want to have this problem again and has decided to only work with units of the Metric Decimal System at his next missions to The Moon. The conversion to the metric system will facilitate that the possible and future human habitats and the vehicles placed in the Moon by the different spatial agencies become more compatible as well as all the information more easily interchangeable.

Outwardly the NASA has been using the metric system since 1990, notwithstanding the English system has widely remained in the aerospace industry of the United States and it is still being used in a lot of missions.

Definitively, the Moon is already metric.


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