Will that be a dram or 3.55 millilitres?

by Dan Westell

NASA is changing its pounds and miles for kilograms and kilometres when setting up future moon missions, a space-related website says.

Moon Daily reports that the U.S. space agency has decided to use metric units for operations on the lunar surface, although the next one is still more than a decade away.

It reached the decision after meeting 13 other space agencies - including Canada's - to talk about co-ordinating lunar programs.

"When we made the announcement at the meeting, the reps for the other space agencies all gave a little cheer," Moon Daily quoted NASA official Jeff Volosin as saying.

"I think NASA has been seen as maybe a bit stubborn by other space agencies in the past, so this was important as a gesture of our willingness to be co-operative when it comes to the moon."

NASA is metric - in theory - but hasn't completely abandoned the ancient English units. The loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter robotic probe in 1999 has been blamed on the confusion that arose because NASA believed certain data was metric when in fact it was in English units, Moon Daily said.

The change means that all data, scientific or operational, for upcoming moon missions will be in compatible units.