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

Heading directly for Balanced Rock

Curiosity's course to Balanced Rock

As I predicted Sunday, the Curiosity science team is aiming the rover directly towards the gap in the mesas, dubbed the Murray Buttes, that also has the balanced rock seen in earlier images.

The image on the right shows the rover’s most recent two traverses, superimposed on a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image. I have cropped it to focus in on the area of most interest.

Based on the rover’s general rate of travel, I would expect them to enter the gap after about two or three more traverses. This means they will be there in about a week, since after each traverse they usually stop and do science and reconnaissance before resuming travel.

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.


  • PeterF

    Future KOA campground!

  • Alex

    NASA stated: “Curiosity has driven 8.40 miles (13.51 kilometers) since its landing in 2012.”
    I call this very ineffective, just about 9 meters/day or 0.1 mm/s. Oh man, so slowly. We need very different autonomous robot, which are able to travel at least 9 km/day!!!

  • Alex wrote: “We need very different autonomous robot, which are able to travel at least 9 km/day!!!”

    It’s called a human being.

  • Localfluff

    An alternative would be to run the rover in “simulated real time” from Earth. I.e. with a time travel delay, but since it is so slow it would still be safe most of the time. And run it continuously 24/7. But that requires a larger research team to handle the increased data, a dedicated Areosynchonous communication satellite and a much more powerful rover, which would be a solar rover with daytime only operations. Curiosity only has 1/6 of a horsepower electric power!

  • Alex

    Localfluff: Yoo describe one option, another would be to design robots, which are able to make own decisions based on in-situ available information, without being chained to ground station on Earth.

    Mr. Zimmerman: Yes, your comment is correct, but man must be not Mars’ surface himself to achieve much higher travel speed. He could use telerobot technology from Mars orbit or real advanced robots (see above, my comments responding to Localfluff).

  • Joe

    Love when John Batchelor plays with the thought of alien life on an alien planet, road markers, left by I guess would be the phobosians? From the J podcast.

  • wayne

    yeah– JB talking Space with Mr. Z, “priceless.” JB is like a kid in a candy-store, genuine enthusiasm!

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