My annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black is now over. It was the best February campaign ever, and the second best of all of my month-long fund-raising campaigns.


There were too many people who contributed to thank you all personally. If I did so I would not have time for the next day or so to actually do any further posts, and I suspect my supporters would prefer me posting on space and culture over getting individual thank you notes.


Let this public thank suffice. I say this often, but I must tell you all that you cannot imagine how much your support means to me. I’ve spent my life fighting a culture hostile to my perspective, a hostility that has often served to squelch my success. Your donations have now allowed me to bypass that hostility to reach a large audience.


Even though the February campaign is over, if you still wish to donate or subscribe you still can do so. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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Curiosity data suggests the occurrence of mega floods in Gale Crater

The uncertainty of science: Using Curiosity data a team of scientists are now suggesting that some of the features the rover has seen were created during mega flood within Gale Crater, and this data also requires a rethinking of the present theories of the crater’s geological history.

This case includes the occurrence of giant wave-shaped features in sedimentary layers of Gale crater, often called “megaripples” or antidunes that are about 30-feet high and spaced about 450 feet apart, according to lead author Ezat Heydari, a professor of physics at Jackson State University.

The antidunes are indicative of flowing megafloods at the bottom of Mars’ Gale Crater about 4 billion years ago, which are identical to the features formed by melting ice on Earth about 2 million years ago, Heydari said.

The most likely cause of the Mars flooding was the melting of ice from heat generated by a large impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet’s frozen reservoirs. The water vapor and release of gases combined to produce a short period of warm and wet conditions on the red planet.

The press release above focuses on the catastrophic floods, but the research paper itself is really much more focused on the need to rethink present hypotheses for explaining the observed geology in Gale Crater. This report notes that they are finding patches of material that could not have been laid down as seen, based on those past theories, and proposes the catastrophic flood event as a possible solution.

In reading the paper however it is evident that even this new hypothesis is based on a limited amount of data, and thus can have holes punched in it as well. This is not to say that the paper is invalid, only that it must be taken with some skepticism. The data being obtained at Gale Crater simply incomplete. Curiosity is following only one path, and has not even left the foothills of Mount Sharp. In order to gain a wider and fuller understanding geologists need to study the entire crater floor, as well as the geology on the mountain.

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.

One comment

  • Jay

    Wow… I learned what an antidune is. I have never heard that term before. Even if I did, I probably would think it was someone who does not like Frank Herbert’s novels.
    I do follow the geology on Mars since it reminds me of where I live in Eastern Washington State. You look all around here and you see the results of the Great Missoula Floods.

    Thank you for using the word hypothesis and not theory.

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