Moon Saturn and Spica at Morning Sky on January 16

The last quarter moon shines near the bright star Spica and the ringed planet Saturn on January 16, in the wee hours after midnight and before daybreak. From mid-northern latitudes, this trio of lights shines highest up in the sky shortly before the dawn of day. The last quarter moon falls at the same instant worldwide. The last quarter moon comes on January 16, at 9:08 Universal Time. In United States, that places tomorrow’s last quarter moon at 4:08 a.m. Eastern Time, 3:08 a.m. Central Time, 2:08 a.m. Mountain Time, and 1:08 a.m. Pacific Time. This is the time when the moon reaches the exact last quarter phase. For all of us, worldwide, every last quarter moon rises in the approximate middle of the night and sets in the approximate middle of the day.

Cassini Diagnostic Testing Part of Its Radio System

Engineers with NASA’s Cassini mission are conducting diagnostic testing on a part of the spacecraft’s radio system after its signal was not detected on Earth during a tracking pass in late December. The spacecraft has been communicating with Earth using a backup part. The issue occurred with the ultra-stable oscillator, which is used for one type of radio science experiment and also as a means of sending data back to Earth. The spacecraft is currently using an auxiliary oscillator, whose frequency stability is adequate for transmitting data from the spacecraft to Earth. Tests later this month will help mission managers decide whether it will be possible to bring the ultra-stable oscillator back into service.

Scientists Studied Undersea for Mission to Titan

A team of scientists has traveled to remote Laguna Negra in the central Andes of Chile to test technologies that could one day be used to explore the lakes of Titan. The Planetary Lake Lander (PLL) project is led by Principal Investigator Nathalie Cabrol of the NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, and is funded by the NASA Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program.

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