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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.


There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
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Cortaro, AZ 85652

Ingenuity completes its 50th flight on Mars

Present location of Perseverance and Ingenuity on Mars
Click for interactive map.

The Ingenuity team yesterday announced that the Mars helicopter has successfully completed its 50th flight on Mars on April 13, 2023, flying 1,057.09 feet (322.2 meters) in 145.7 seconds, while setting a new altitude record of 59 feet. The green dot marks its new location on the overview map to the right, with the blue dot marking Perseverance.

Built with many off-the-shelf components, such as smartphone processors and cameras, Ingenuity is now 23 Earth months and 45 flights beyond its expected lifetime. The rotorcraft has flown for over 89 minutes and more than 7.1 miles (11.6 kilometers). “When we first flew, we thought we would be incredibly lucky to eke out five flights,” said Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at JPL. “We have exceeded our expected cumulative flight time since our technology demonstration wrapped by 1,250% and expected distance flown by 2,214%.”

The helicopter is beginning to show signs of age, with its engineering team recognizing that its life could end at any time, especially because it now has to fly more often to keep ahead of Perseverance, while also keeping within communications range.

The helicopter however is now giving us clues as to where the Perseverance science team wants to send the rover. Notice how its path has shifted north away from its planned route (along the red dotted line) to travel just below the rim of Belva Crater, following Ingenuity. The helicopter team is thus providing the rover team some specific additional information about the ground ahead, aiding in planning travel.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Chris

    I hope all the members of the Ingenuity engineering team are having a beer – or beverage of their choice. Mine is a Bradshaw bourbon at the moment. Ingenuity has been a resounding success, reaching beyond its expectations. Bravo!

  • Jeffrey Williams

    I like how it flies in a 0.01% CO2 “atmosphere”…

  • You know the tune. There’s a reason Chuck Berry is on the Voyager Record. And the JPL site for the mission notes that Ingenuity is nick-named ‘Gennie’.

    She departed Earth
    On an Atlas stack
    ‘Slipping surly bonds’
    Out into the Black

    ‘Seven Minutes of Terror’
    Saw her on the ground
    Now she had prove
    She could get around

    She’s been aloft for 50 flights
    Ginnie B, Goode tonight!

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