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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

A typical mid-latitude Martian crater with glacial features

Typical mid-latitude Martian crater with glacial fill
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The crater on the right, the image cropped and reduced to post here, is a great example of many craters scientists have found in the mid-latitudes on Mars containing a variety of features that suggest buried glaciers. In this case we are looking at what they have dubbed a concentric crater fill, material that resembles glacial material that fills the crater’s interior and floor, and appears often to erode in a series of rings. You can see another example here.

The photo was taken on June 29, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The crater itself is located in a region of chaos terrain dubbed Nilosyrtis Mensae, located in the transition zone between the cratered southern highlands and the lowland northern plains.

Nilosyrtis Mensae is part of a region of Mars I call glacier country. When you include the mensae regions Protonilus and Deuteronilus to the west, this transition zone of random mesas, knobs, and criss-crossing canyons stretches about 2,000 miles. The context map below focuses in on Nilosyrtis Mensae, where this crater is located.

Overview map

The red box indicates the crater’s location. The black box is the location of the beginning of a canyon that I previously highlighted to explain the geological process that created this chaos terrain.

In this country almost every high resolution image shows some features that suggest glaciers, either flows coming down the slopes of mesas, canyons filled with glacial-type flows, or filled craters like this. If you want to have some fun, go to the archive for MRO’s resolution camera for this region, and click on each of the red boxes, especially those in the chaotic region of knobs and mesas. You will get to see what I mean.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don'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

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.

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 *