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.

High res radar instrument fails on Earth observation satellite

Only seven months after launch one of the two instruments on NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Earth observation satellite has failed.

Launched on Jan. 31, the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft’s objective is to map global soil moisture and to detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. It is the first mission where scientists have attempted to collect high-resolution, high-accuracy soil moisture data, said Kent Kellogg, SMAP’s JPL-based project manager.

NASA budgeted $916 million for the mission and has been working on it for the past eight years. “We do a lot of testing on the ground to make sure the designs will be built properly and will last in the environment,” Kellogg said. “But space is a very unforgiving place, and we can have these kinds of problems where despite our best efforts with design and vigorous testing, something surprises us. It’s very uncommon, but these things can happen occasionally.”

SMAP’s two scientific tools are an active radar and a passive radiometer. They complement each other, making up for the other’s measurement limitations. The broken radar collected soil moisture and freeze-thaw measurements at a higher resolution of up to 1.9 miles. The still functioning radiometer generates more accurate measurements but its resolution is lower at about 25 miles. [emphasis mine]

I am not satisfied by the explanation for the failure expressed above. NASA spent a lot of money for this science satellite over almost a decade. In addition, we have been launching instruments like this for almost half a century, and have by now learned quite well the engineering necessary to keep them operating under the conditions in low Earth orbit. I suspect a screw-up somewhere, which we might or might not ever identify.


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One comment

  • PeterF

    Bet it turns out to be a defective part made in another country under an empowerment program. Probably a cold-solder joint like the one I found in the aquastat on my oil burner during a snow storm on a three day weekend. Assembled in USA on the outside, heche en Mexico on the internal components.

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