Scroll down to read this post.


My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

A Martian hill of pillows

Curiosity's future path, taken January 31, 2023
Click for original image.

The cool image above was taken on January 31, 2023 by the left navigation camera on the Mars rover Curiosity. The red dotted line indicates roughly the planned route forward for the rover, though as Curiosity gets closer to that hill the terrain is looking increasingly difficult. The white box in the panorama below, taken two weeks earlier when the rover was about five hundred feet away, indicates the area covered by this picture. Since then Curiosity has traveled about 200 feet closer.

I post this picture specifically because of the small hill to the right of that path. Probably no more than fifty feet high, its entire surface appears cloaked by a pile of large, pillow-like pavement stones, almost as if the ground below had been washed away so that the massive top layer fell downward over time. Later, wind erosion over eons smoothed the rough edges of those massive blocks, giving them their cushion-like shapes.

This is strange geology. You might see such strange geology on Earth, but rarely. On Mars however strange geology appears increasingly common.

Moreover, to get a 3D sense of this terrain, load into your browser (on separate tabs) the full images of this hill, taken by Curiosity’s right and left navigation cameras (here and here). If you switch back and forth quickly between those tabs, you will see the slight shift in position between the two cameras, and be able to perceive this hill in three dimensions.

Panorama taken January 17, 2023 by Curiosity

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Star Bird

    Any signs of Marvin K-9 and those Instant Martians yet?

  • Greg the Geologist

    Pillow lavas are fairly common on earth, but form when basaltic lava is extruded under water (as on the flanks of a Hawaiian island, or along a mid-ocean ridge). Hmm…

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *