Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. 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.


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

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

ExoMars snaps its first images of Mars

In preparation for its October arrival in Mars orbit, the European ExoMars probe has successfully sent back its first images of the red planet.

The image is very fuzzy with a very low resolution, but that is expected considering the distance. What the image demonstrates is that ExoMars’ camera is working as expected.

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.


  • PeterF

    One pixel equals 10000 miles?

  • At this distance. Once the spacecraft gets into orbit the resolution will be significantly better, and in fact I am sure it will be spectacular.

  • LocalFluff

    Orbital insertion in October, but it will aerobrake during a whole year!If I understood that correctly. With increased knowledge of Mars’ atmosphere, and growing experiences from for example ESA’s Venus Express at the end of its mission last year, maybe we are not far from using aerocapture soon, i.e, not having to spend any fuel on orbital insertion. Maybe a weather satellite is needed at Mars to make that work safely, but that is not far away either. All planets have atmospheres, except for Mercury. It would be quite helpful for spaceflight. This will be the sixth active orbiter at Mars, it’s getting busy up there.

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 *