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.

Future of InSight’s heat probe dim

Blocked after drilling down only one foot instead of fifteen, engineers are increasingly worried that they will not be able to get InSight’s heat probe past whatever is blocking to so it can begin getting data of Mars’s inner thermal environment.

They are considering a bunch of options, including using InSight’s robot arm to either give the probe a nudge to help it get past the obstruction, or even use the arm to push the probe.

None of the options are encouraging it seems.


I must unfortunately ask you for your financial support because I do not depend on ads and rely entirely on the generosity of readers to keep Behind the Black running. You can either make a one time donation for whatever amount you wish, or you sign up for a monthly subscription ranging from $2 to $15 through Paypal or $3 to $50 through Patreon.

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.

Your support is even more essential to me because I not only keep this site free from advertisements, I do not use the corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook to promote my work. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


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


If Patreon or Paypal don'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

Or you can donate by using Zelle through your bank. You will need to give my name and email address (found at the bottom of the "About" page). The best part of this electronic option is that no fees will be deducted! What you donate will be what I receive.


  • Orion314

    The Apollo missions showed how difficult drilling in situ can be. I thought from the first I read of this mission, with no roving capabilities, blind drilling is going to need some pure luck. Nasa/JPL really seemed to pitch this part of the mission as a piece of cake…

  • Jollster

    Agree. Chances of success must have been 50/50 at best. The amount of rock under the surface must be all encompassing

  • wayne

    So…they seriously thought they could go down 15 feet, without encountering a single glitch? I’d like to see the statistical analysis that was made (or not) of this eventuality. Somebody thought it was a great idea and signed off on it, time for them to become famous.
    What is Plan “B” and Plan “C”?

    “You guys are NASA” scene

  • wayne

    Hunt for Red October
    –the relevant clip-

  • MJMJ

    How do we know that there isn’t just a solid layer of bedrock under a thin layer of soil?

  • Charles

    To bad they can’t just pull it back up and move it over a foot.

  • Lee S

    I agree with all of the above…. The most we have checked out Martian soil is a few centimetres… And there is bedrock poking out everywhere…. I presumed this little mole probe would have rock breaking capabilities….
    Has the probe hit bedrock?
    If a pebble can wreck the mission, someone should be held accountable for such a stupid oversight…

  • Ian C.

    Mars2020 will have a Ground Penetrating Radar. Perhaps useful before digging around I guess.

  • Orion314

    Wayne, that Armageddon link you sent should be daily required viewing for anyone in the USG space biz, Tx!

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 *