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.

Inexplicable ridges in Hellas Basin on Mars

Sinuous ridge in Hellas Basin
Click for full image.

Time for some more cool but mysterious Martian images! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, is the first of two images today, both of which show the ridges but of a completely different nature. Both are located in Hellas Basin in Mars southern hemisphere.

This first picture was taken on September 4, 2020 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), and shows a sinuous complex that resembles to a remarkable extent a set of river tributaries, but is instead a set of raised ridges rather than a canyon system.

Scientists have found more than 10,000 miles of such ridges in the northern hemisphere in Arabia Terra, the most extensive transition zone between the southern highlands and the northern lowlands, and have dubbed them fossilized rivers. From a 2016 press release:

The inverted channels are similar to those found elsewhere on Mars and Earth. They are made of sand and gravel deposited by a river and when the river becomes dry, the channels are left upstanding as the surrounding material erodes. On Earth, inverted channels often occur in dry, desert environments like Oman, Egypt, or Utah, where erosion rates are low – in most other environments, the channels are worn away before they can become inverted. “The networks of inverted channels in Arabia Terra are about 30m high and up to 1–2km wide, so we think they are probably the remains of giant rivers that flowed billions of years ago. Arabia Terra was essentially one massive flood plain bordering the highlands and lowlands of Mars. We think the rivers were active 3.9–3.7 billion years ago, but gradually dried up before being rapidly buried and protected for billions of years, potentially preserving any ancient biological material that might have been present,” added Joel Davis.

Nor are such features on Mars limited to Hellas and Arabia Terra. For a particularly spectacular feature in the cratered highlands see this 2019 post.

The origin of these sinuous ridges in Hellas might have a similar origin as these other fossilized rivers. At present the bottom of Hellas, the deepest basin on Mars, is a place with little signs of ice. In the past there is evidence that lakes once existed here, so we cannot rule out water as a cause.

At the same time, Hellas was formed by a gigantic impact. One cannot dismiss the possibility of a volcanic origin, impact melt left over from the heat of that crash.

Today’s second ridge complex in Hellas looks far different.

Cross-cutting ridges in Hellas Basin
Click for full image.


The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, was also taken by MRO’s high resolution camera on September 4, 2020. Unlike the sinuous ridges above, here we have cross-cutting ridges that more resemble the skeleton of a fish.

The cross-cutting nature of these ridges argues against them being a fossilized river. Instead, they suggest cracking and faults that became filled with material that was more resistant than the surrounding terrain and thus remained when that surrounding terrain eroded away. This hypothesis suggests cracks originally filled with lava.. Thus, these ridges could be evidence of the original impact melt that carved Hellas when that bolide smashed into Mars an estimated four billion years ago.

Or not. I am guessing wildly here.

The overview map to the right shows the location of these two pictures in Hellas Basin, with #1 the sinuous ridges and #2 the cross-cutting ones. That the sinuous ridges are in the southeast corner of the basin, close to regions where a lot of glaciers have been identified on the borders of Hellas, along with layers of ice in cliff scarps just outside Hellas, adds weight to the river theory of their formation. The deeper location of #2 fits better with the impact origin.

But as I said, these are still wild guesses. We would need a lot more information before these guesses become educated.


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  • Phill O

    Cool stuff!

  • Jeff Wright

    Cthulhu tracks!

  • Alex Andrite

    ” … filled with material that was more resistant than the surrounding terrain and thus remained when that surrounding terrain eroded away. ”

    The basalt ridges along the lower California Sierra foothills, within the gold bearing channel areas, have been recognized as ancient (river) lava flows which remained after the erosion of the surrounding areas, causing pronounced ridges with mesas now.
    The ridges are really quite remarkable and beautiful in a foothill sort of way, at least when seen headed east along the highway 120 / 180 / and past the Keystone area.

    Mars ? Who knows ?

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