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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 triangular Martian hill

A triangular Martian hill
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here, was taken on May 29, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows what the science team labels an “unusual shaped hill” that is estimated to be about 20 to 40 feet high.

What makes it unusual? First, it sticks up out of the endless northern lowland plains for no obvious reason, though its shape suggests the existence of bedrock topography that is now buried by the dust and debris that coats the surface of those plains.

Second, the hill itself suggests that it formed after it was covered with debris. Note the crater near its northeast cliff. It appears that the cliff chopped off part of the crater, suggesting that the hill was once level with the surrounding terrain. Some later underground pressure pushed it upward, with its angled sides determined by existing faults.

Why those forces tilted the hill upward as it did, with only its eastern fringes raised, is a question a wide view might answer.

Overview map

The overview map to the right marks this location with the white dot, southeast of where China’s Zhurong rover landed. The image below the map is a wider view of this hill, created from a mosaic of MRO context camera images.

Note the small ridge that lines up with the hill’s southeast cliff. Both suggest the existence of a larger faultline or crack, which reinforces the hypothesis that the hill was created when something pushed it up along fault lines. If so, this hill is thus a graben, which geologists define as either a depression or rise created when two masses of bedrock shift relative to each other along fault lines.

The many craters on this plain also tell us that the surface is very old. Little has happened over the eons to wipe clean the record of bombardment from the early solar system. That this unchanged terrain is also at 22 north latitude, in the dry equatorial regions, suggests that even as Mars made its regular swings of rotational tilt, from 11 to 60 degrees, producing hundreds of cycles of climate change, those cycles had relatively little impact here.

All suggestions and hints, but the data remains too sparse for any solid conclusions.

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

Readers: the rules for commenting!


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