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Alien textured Martian lava

Alien textured Martian lava
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on February 17, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows what the science team labels “regularly textured ground on Pavonis Mons.”

The arrow in the picture indicates the downhill trend. If you look at the full image, you will see that this texture pattern extends in all directions for a considerable distance, both uphill and down, and even covers the entire floor of a depression that appears to contour along the grade instead of going downhill.

The latitude here is very close to the equator. So, even though the elevation is high, being on the slopes of a giant volcano, there is probably no near surface ice here.

Overview map

The green dot on the northern flank of the giant volcano Pavonis Mons on the overview map to the right marks this location, which also suggests that everything we see here should be flood lava that flowed downhill as it poured out of vents on the volcano’s sides or from its caldera about fifty miles away and about 16,000 feet higher up. Yet why should that lava harden with such a precisely repeating texture pattern?

I wonder if we might looking at a thick layer of volcanic ash that has been shaped by the prevailing winds. I don’t have much confidence in this guess, but I can’t think of any other reason lava would have such a regular textured pattern.

All in all, this image once again illustrates the alienness of Mars. It is a planet with many features reminiscent of Earth, all of which become stranger and more alien the closer you look at them.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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