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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


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Curiosity moves into a mountain gap

Maria Gordon Notch
Click for full resolution version. Original images here and here.

Curiosity's location, December 6, 2021
Click for interactive map.

For the last three weeks the Curiosity science team has had the rover poking about at the base of the 40 foot cliff on the right of the panorama above. At that location many rocks and boulders had fallen from the top of the cliff, which gave them an opportunity to study the geology of the plateau above, even though it was literally beyond reach.

Beginning yesterday that work ended, and the science team finally made the commitment to move forward, into the gap above where the rover will turn right, climb up onto that plateau through a notch they have dubbed Maria Gordon Notch. The map to the right shows this coming route with the red dotted line.

Once in that notch Curiosity will truly be in the mountains of Gale Crater, even if those mountains are only the foothills to Mount Sharp.

It is interesting to contrast the roughness of the terrain that Curiosity is now routinely traveling, with the relatively benign ground that Perseverance is traversing on the floor of Jezero Crater. While Curiosity is pushing forward into steeper and rougher terrain, the Perseverance team is retreating from the somewhat mild sand dune ground of South Seitah, even though that ground is far less challenging than anything faced by Curiosity. You can see this retreat at the interactive map here. Zoom in and place your cursor over each waypoint. Rather than push forward, the Perseverance team seems willing to have the rover retreat and retrace its route around Seitah, even though to retrace those steps will likely take a few weeks, during which they will cover no new ground and will likely learn little new.

Why the Perseverance team seems so timid is puzzling. It could be they are still working out the kinks of their operation. It could be that they want to take no risks at all this early in their mission. And it could also be that the team culture at Perseverance is simply less daring than that of the Curiosity team.

Only time will answer this question. I suspect as the Perseverance mission unfolds its scientists will become more bold. We just need to give them time.

Conscious Choice cover

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.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and 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.

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