Readers!
 

My annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black is now over. It was the best February campaign ever, and the second best of all of my month-long fund-raising campaigns.

 

There were too many people who contributed to thank you all personally. If I did so I would not have time for the next day or so to actually do any further posts, and I suspect my supporters would prefer me posting on space and culture over getting individual thank you notes.

 

Let this public thank suffice. I say this often, but I must tell you all that you cannot imagine how much your support means to me. I’ve spent my life fighting a culture hostile to my perspective, a hostility that has often served to squelch my success. Your donations have now allowed me to bypass that hostility to reach a large audience.

 

Even though the February campaign is over, if you still wish to donate or subscribe you still can do so. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


 

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
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Curiosity prepares to move on

Route through Murray Buttes

After several days of drilling, the Curiosity science team is preparing to move forward. As one member of the team notes,

After a short drive we’ll acquire images for context and targeting. Overnight, Curiosity will complete a SAM electrical baseline test to monitor instrument health. Based on some of the recent Mastcam images that we’ve acquired…, the view ahead should be quite scenic as we drive through the Murray Buttes!

The image above is a close-up of those Buttes, showing Balanced Rock on the left, taken from one of three raw left navigation images. The image below is a panorama I have created from those navigation images, with an inset box to show the location of the above picture.

Panorama of Murray Buttes

It appears, based on all of the images they have taken in the past day, Sol 1427, that they are trying to decide how to get around that small patch of dark sand directly ahead, and whether they can drive Curiosity through the gap in which the balanced rock is located.

Below is part of a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image, showing Curiosity’s most recent position and annotated by me to highlight the view from the panorama above as well as the location of the balanced rock (marked by the “X”). I have also indicated with a dotted line two possible routes. I suspect, unfortunately, that they are leaning towards the route to the west in order to avoid being forced to cross that dark sand in the eastern gap.

Possible routes through Murray Buttes

I also suspect that they are doing the short drive today in order to get a better idea of which way to go thereafter. Either way, the view will be quite interesting in the days ahead. Below is another section of the same Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image, this time showing the rough terrain ahead to the south, surrounded by sharp buttes on all sides. Beyond this the ground appears to get even rougher. Picking Curiosity’s way through this terrain is going to become increasingly interesting in the coming days.

The way forward

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

4 comments

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

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Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

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