Readers!
 

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:

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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 reaches Naukluft Plateau

The view from Naukluft

Apropos to my post yesterday on Curiosity’s journey on Mars, the rover this week reached the flat area the science team has dubbed Naukluff Plateau.

The Sol 1281 drive completed as planned, crossing the Murray/Stimson contact at the edge of the Naukluft plateau. Now that we have a better view of the plateau, we are ready to start driving across it. But first, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe targets “Orupembe” and “Witvlei” on the bedrock in front of the rover. Mastcam will also take pictures of the rocks in front of the rover and targets “Natab East” and “Natab West” on either side of the vehicle before the Sol 1282 drive. After the drive, in addition to the usual post-drive imaging, the Left Mastcam will acquire a full 360-degree panorama, as the view from the new location (near the left edge of the image above) is expected to be good. We are looking forward to seeing the new data!

The second link above leads to the rover’s daily update site. It was here that the science team reported an issue with the rover’s scoop back in early February. Since then, however, they have never revealed if the problem was solved. Nor have they used the scoop in any way since then. I now wonder if it is no longer operational and am considering pursuing that question a bit to find out.

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.
 

2 comments

  • mivenho

    I see a lot of sharp-edged rocks. Curiosity will need to maneuver carefully to minimize wheel damage.

  • wayne

    mivenho brings up a point:
    “…..minimize wheel damage.”

    What are the “wheels” made of? Some type of high-tech plastic / carbon fiber polymer composite, or what?
    (Website IS filled with lots-o-info, but they lack some techie-specs, or at least I couldn’t find them easily. JPL has nice website’s but I personally have trouble drilling down into esoterica.)

    Yeah Mr. Z., — what’s up with the scoop?

    I’m no engineer, but from personal real-life I’ve learned that “moving-parts” are always the weak-links in the chain. The “mean-time-to-failure” and all that…

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

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