A time zone is a region of the globe that observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions instead of longitude, because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to keep the same time.
Most of the time zones on land are offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by a whole number of hours (UTC−12:00 to UTC+14:00), but a few zones are offset by 30 or 45 minutes (e.g. Newfoundland Standard Time is UTC−03:30, Nepal Standard Time is UTC+05:45, Indian Standard Time is UTC+05:30 and Myanmar Standard Time is UTC+06:30).
Some higher latitude and temperate zone countries use daylight saving time for part of the year, typically by adjusting local clock time by an hour. Many land time zones are skewed toward the west of the corresponding nautical time zones. This also creates a permanent daylight saving time effect.
Orbiting spacecraft typically experience many sunrises and sunsets in a 24-hour period, or in the case of Apollo program astronauts travelling to the moon, none. Thus it is not possible to calibrate time zones with respect to the sun, and still respect a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. A common practice for space exploration is to use the Earth-based time zone of the launch site or mission control. This keeps the sleeping cycles of the crew and controllers in sync. The International Space Station normally uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Timekeeping on Mars can be more complex, since the planet has a solar day of approximately 24 hours and 39 minutes, known as a sol. Earth controllers for some Mars missions have synchronized their sleep/wake cycles with the Martian day, because solar-powered rover activity on the surface was tied to periods of light and dark. The difference in day length caused the sleep/wake cycles to slowly drift with respect to the day/night cycles on Earth, repeating approximately once every 36 days.
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