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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


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Beyond Murray Buttes

Panorama ahead for Curiosity, Sol 1438

Time for a Curiosity update. Above is a panorama I’ve created from raw images released today from the rover’s left navigation camera of the mesa filled terrain within which Curiosity now sits. Since my last update they have traveled about 200 feet south, moving away from the mesa with the balanced rock

Below the fold is a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image with Curiosity’s path indicated. I have marked the balanced rock with an X, and have indicated with the yellow lines the area covered by the panorama above.

They appear to be aiming due south for the narrow gap between the long ridge-like mesas. This will bring Curiosity out into the open and sloping terrain that can be seen in the distance in the last image of my last update. I suspect they want to get a closer look at those parallel grooves, even if it means the journey will be a little rougher.

Curiosity path beyond Murray Buttes

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Localfluff

    Robert, you’re a cave enthusiast. Do you have any idea if liquid water on (in) Mars could have had enough time to form caves there too? Not just lava tubes, but caves. How old are caves on Earth?

  • Localfluff:

    1. It is very difficult to date caves on Earth. In fact, in most cases it is impossible. We can make educated guesses, but generally these are just guesses.

    2. On Earth most caves, excluding lava tubes, are formed in limestone, which is created from the shells of sea life. For such sedimentary layers to form on Mars would require significant long term oceans that came and went with a lot of life in them. So far, we have little evidence of this on Mars. There might have been an ocean, but if so it was not there long enough, with enough life (if any) to put down significant calcite layers.

    3. It is conceivable however for caves to form in other ways, on an alien planet. Mars has 1/3 Earth’s gravity. That changes a lot of things. It also appears in many places to have underground water in the form of ice. It is possible that caves could form on Mars in different ways with different materials. It will require real human exploration to find out.

  • Localfluff

    Does there exist any caves in ice caps or in glaciers on Earth?
    I would guess that there are, but that the internal structures of ice masses are quite temporary. Mars does have big seasonal changes. Imagine a cave in CO2 ice. Maybe it would sublimate as you walk through it.

  • wodun

    Once again, great work with the pictures.

  • Localfluff asked: “Does there exist any caves in ice caps or in glaciers on Earth?”

    Yes. many. Do a google search, under images, and I am sure, even without doing it myself, that you will get to see a lot of cool images.

  • Localfluff

    Wow, that’s an exotic world I didn’t know existed. Under our feet, between the Australians and me. “Needle ice extrusions”, that’s so weird.

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