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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.


There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five 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 spot where the surface of Mars cracked

The spot where Mars cracked
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, rotated, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on September 14, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a small section of the Cerberus Fossae cracks, a parallel series of cracks that stretch more than 700 miles across the volcanic plains of Mars.

These cracks formed when the ground spread apart, creating a void in which the surface collapsed. You can see this process illustrated quite clearly by the crater in the lower right, as indicated by the arrow. The crater had existed prior to the crack. When the ground split and collapsed, only the northeast quadrant of the crater was destroyed.

These cracks might also have been the source of Mars’ most recent large volcanic event, as shown by the overview map below.

Overview map

The white dot inside the rectangle on the overview map to the right marks the location, also indicated by the small box inside the inset. The Cerberus Fossae cracks run east to west, and cut across what the seismometer on the lander InSight found to the most quake-prone region of Mars. It appears that when these cracks opened they might have been the source of the Athabasca Valles flood lava event, thought to have occurred about 600 million years ago when it covered an area about the size of Great Britain in only a matter of weeks. The lava flowed to the southwest, almost at perfect right angles to Cerberus Fossae. The flood then divided, with some heading to the south and the majority flowing west.

If Cerberus Fossae is the source of this flood, it suggests the ground cracked 600 million years ago as well. Why it cracked is less clear, though it likely had something to do with underground volcanic activity that pushed the Athabasca lava upward and out, forcing the surface to stretch and split.

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

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