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The Mountains of Mars

The mountains of Mars
Click for full resolution. The highest mountain on the right is about 450 feet high.

Even as the rover Perseverance is beginning its first science campaign on the floor of Jezero Crater, the rover Curiosity about 3,000 miles to the east has begun its climb into the mountains of Mars that surround the central peak of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp.

The mosaic above, made from two images taken by the rover’s right navigation camera (here and here), shows what Curiosity sees ahead. Since my last update on June 4th describing Curiosity’s future travels, the rover’s science team has pushed forward directly uphill towards the entrance to the canyon Gediz Vallis, visible as the gap between the mountains to the right and left in the above mosaic.

The overview map below shows the rover’s approximate present position, with the yellow lines indicating what the above photo is looking at.

Overview map
Click for original.

The dotted red line marks the original route the scientists had planned. It right now appears that instead of heading around the high mountains to the west to enter Gediz Vallis farther south, they are heading directly into the canyon. Though they will likely simply dip the rover’s toe into the canyon, then back off and circle around as planned, this is not guaranteed. The rover’s wheels are not in great shape, and the terrain they are traversing is quite rough. They may have decided it is more important to climb as high as they can as quickly as they can, to get to the sulfate unit of rocks indicated by the brightest tan layers on the overview map.

If they do as I am guessing, they will push into the canyon a short distance, then skirt very close to the base of the high butte forming the canyon’s western wall as they head back to their planned route. This will give them excellent terrain to study the sulfate unit as soon as possible, while also affording them (and us!) some breath-taking views of the biggest Martian mountains ever viewed from ground-level.

I intend to post those images, as they occur, so stay tuned. The best part of Curiosity’s Martian journey is now beginning.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

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.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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