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
Cortaro, AZ 85652

A glacier filled canyon on Mars?

Large glacial flow exiting Mamers Valles
Click for full image.

The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was taken on September 9, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows the northern half of a 15-mile wide canyon on Mars whose floor appears to be completely filled by a glacier. The full picture shows both the north and south rims, and captures the canyon’s outlet from the southern cratered highlands into the chaotic terrain of Deuteronilus Mensae, the region of Mars I like to call glacier country. This region of canyons and mesas forms the transition zone down to the northern lowland plains, and is a region where almost every MRO image shows glacial-type features.

The size and age of this glacial feature is what makes it stand out. First, note the craters on its surface. The glacier has to be quite old and inactive for a long time for those craters to still exist as they appear. Any movement would have distorted them, and they show little distortion.

The overview map below gives a sense of this glacier’s size.

Overview map

The black rectangle shows the area covered by the full image. Mamers Valles is a 300 mile long canyon that drains into Deuteronilus Mensae at this point. Today’s full image covers the full width of its eastern outlet, showing that this glacier fills the canyon. Other MRO images further up the canyon to the west (here and here) show the same thing, even though to the west Mamers Valles widens considerably. Yet, it is still filled with this glacier-like flow. (See also this earlier post on Mamers Valles.)

There is a lot of buried ice here, and it has been here for a long time. Such data has suggested to scientists the possibility that many of Mars’s meandering river-like canyons like Mamers might not have been formed by fast-flowing liquid water, but by slowly flowing glacial ice. We do not know this yet, and there has only been a few studies pointing in this direction. Still, the evidence is enticing, and if true could help explain the biggest geological mystery of Mars. It shows a lot of surface features and geology that suggests the past existence of liquid water. Yet its thin atmosphere and cold temperature make flowing liquid water impossible. And no model has yet convincingly created the right climate conditions in the Martian past to have made liquid water possible.

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.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


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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