This Week in Space: Mercury, Mars, and a damaged Russian satellite

APL

Just in case you’ve been disappointed by space news lately after the recent drought of rocks whizzing by our planet, don't fret: We've got plenty of space news to feed your hunger. To start, there was a satellite wreck in Earth’s orbit! We also have some stunning mosaics of Mercury to share with you, and the one press conference about a rock that may actually be interesting.

NASA’s MESSENGER mission produces new images of Mercury [NASA]

After a months-long stream of high quality images of Mars from Curiosity, NASA shifted focus temporarily this weekend by showing off the results of the MESSENGER mission’s ninth batch of images of Mercury.

The MESSENGER probe has delivered enough data for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to construct the most detailed mosaics yet of Mercury’s surface, similar to those from the ESA's Mars Express probe. You can find all the amazing mosaics (including the global mosaic) on the APL website. [via The Verge]

Space junk collides with Russian satellite, ignites concern [Space]

After an eye-opening month of hits and near-misses from natural space debris, a recent collision between an active Russian satellite and the remains of a destroyed Chinese weather satellite might signal the need for a more proactive approach to eliminating man-made “space junk.”

Although the Center for Space Standards and Innovations (CSSI) reported the event and is now looking into the aftermath of the collision in relation to the state of the Russian spacecraft, the larger story is that objects in low Earth orbit are not entirely safe.

Even though scientists and laboratories monitor every active spacecraft, Space.com says that there could be up to “600,000 objects larger than 1 cm in diameter orbiting Earth[.]” We might need WALL-E even sooner than we thought.

Curiosity press conference will reveal the most recent findings [NASA JPL]

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Curiosity's rock sample.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Mars rover’s latest exploits, then you probably know that it drilled into its first rock and collected a sample to analyze with its on-board instruments. It appears that the bot is finally done after three weeks of analysis, and NASA will hold a press conference at 10am PDT Tuesday morning to discuss the results.

You'll be able to watch the press conference via both NASA TV and Ustream, so be sure to tune in and head back over to GeekTech later for the story. It’s official: We’ll be watching a press conference about a rock.

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