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I am now in the final week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you all, from the people who have donated small amounts to those who have given large sums. I cannot truly express how much your support means to me.

 

The support of my readers through the years has given me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.

 

Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.

 

In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.

 

Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.

 

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A Martian wedding cake surrounded by brain terrain

Brain terrain surrounding a Martian wedding cake
Click for original image.

Of all many cool images I’ve posted, today might take the cake (pun intended) for the best illustration of the alien nature of Mars. The picture to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on June 28, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows what the scientists simply label as “flow features.”

I personally don’t see any obvious flow features in the full image, unless one wants to call the brain terrain that covers this entire plain a flow feature. Brain terrain is a feature unique to Mars whose origin remains a mystery to geologists. As noted by scientists in captioned MRO image in 2019:

You are staring at one of the unsolved mysteries on Mars. This surface texture of interconnected ridges and troughs, referred to as “brain terrain” is found throughout the mid-latitude regions of Mars.

…This bizarrely textured terrain may be directly related to the water-ice that lies beneath the surface. One hypothesis is that when the buried water-ice sublimates (changes from a solid to a gas), it forms the troughs in the ice. The formation of these features might be an active process that is slowly occurring since HiRISE [MRO’s high resolution camera] has yet to detect significant changes in these terrains.

The wedding cake inside the small crater to the upper right only adds to the alienness of this terrain.

Overview map

On the overview map to the right the yellow dot marks this location. At this latitude, 41 degrees south, MRO high resolution images routinely find features that are strongly associated with near surface ice. And though the origin of brain terrain remains uncertain, it is still believed to be related to near surface ice, mostly because it is found largely in these icy higher latitudes.

As for the terraced mesa inside the crater, this is simply another Martian mystery. Nor is it unique in the mid-latitudes of Mars. Its terraces are almost certainly related to the many glacial cycles that have occurred on Mars due to the large swings in its rotational tilt over millions of years. Why those terraces however seem to sit higher than the crater’s rim is inexplicable. One would think, based on Earth glaciers, that the height of glacial material would be limited by the bedrock around it. Instead, in this crater the glacier rises above that bedrock.

Because this spot is located close to the candidate landing zones for SpaceX’s Starship, it is likely that the first explorers will have a chance to visit it, and possibly even provide their own explanation for this geology. At a minimum they will get to see it, up close and personal.

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 print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

 
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

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