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.

A gecko on Mars

Gecko on Mars
Click for full image.

Today’s cool image is also today’s picture of the day from the science team of the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO. That picture, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, can be seen to the right. As the caption authors Sharon Wilson and Sarah Sutton write:

The smooth volcanic surfaces in the Gordii Fossae region are sometimes interrupted by long, narrow troughs, or fissures. These fissures form when underground faults, possibly involving magma movement, reach the near-surface, allowing material to collapse into pits or an elongated trough. This fissure appears to have erupted material that flowed onto the surface.

If you use your imagination, this trough resembles a gecko with its long tail and web-shaped feet!

This impression is even more evident in the wider image taken by MRO’s context camera below.

Context camera view
Click for full image.

Overview map

To my eye, the gecko is about to swallow a very big bug. It also appears to me to be followed by second, third, and maybe a third gecko, less visible because they are partly hidden by mist.

I know, I know, I am letting my imagination run away with me. What the wider image actually illustrates quite clearly are the underground fissures in this region, all aligned in a northwest to a southeast direction.

The overview map below helps even more to explain why these fissures exist. When Mount Olympus was growing, it imposed two major changes on this landscape. First the upward pressure of the volcano’s magma caused radiating cracks to occur in the surrounding terrain. Second, the volcano flooded that surrounding terrain with lava, producing the smooth lava flood plains. Because those lava flood plains are relatively young, they have few craters.

The result is a very smooth surface periodically interspersed with long narrow sinks. That one of those sinks now can be imagined by Earthlings as resembling a gecko is mere happenstance.

The overview map also underlines the difference between lava flows on Earth and on Mars. The distance from the caldera’s eastern rim and this fissure is about 140 miles. While much of the lava here probably came from much closer vents, the ability of Martian lava to flow faster and farther means that the volcano was able to inundate a much larger area than is possible on Earth.

When human geologists finally get to Olympus Mons I suspect they are going to end up mapping out a volcanic history that is truly monumental, far exceeding anything they can presently imagine.


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  • Phill O

    Comparing to the lava flows currently happening in the Canary Islands and on Iceland, it would appear that these martian flows were liquid for some time, due to their smoothness.

  • John

    Yeah, and you can’t go anywhere with out the damn thing trying to sell you insurance.

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