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I am now in the second week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you to everyone that donated so generously last week. I hope week two will do as well.

 

Your donations and subscriptions have allowed me the freedom and ability to analyze objectively the ongoing renaissance in space, as well as the cultural changes -- for good or ill -- that are happening across America. Four years ago, just before the 2020 election I wrote that Joe Biden's mental health was suspect. Only in the past two weeks has the mainstream media decided to recognize that basic fact.

 

Fourteen years ago I wrote that SLS and Orion were a bad ideas, a waste of money, would be years behind schedule, and better replaced by commercial private enterprise. Even today NASA and Congress refuses to recognize this reality.

 

In 2020 when the world panicked over COVID I wrote that the panic was unnecessary, that the virus was apparently simply a variation of the flu, that masks were not simply pointless but if worn incorrectly were a health threat, that the lockdowns were a disaster and did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. Only in the past year have some of our so-called experts in the health field have begun to recognize these facts.

 

Your help allows me to do this kind of intelligent analysis. I take no advertising or sponsors, so my reporting isn't influenced by donations by established space or drug companies. Instead, I rely entirely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, which gives me the freedom to write what I think, unencumbered by outside influences.

 

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Is this the planned landing site of China’s Mars rover?

The prime landing site for China's Mars rover?

According to this Space News article, a report in the Chinese press, since revised to remove the information, had provided precise coordinates on Mars for the prime candidate landing site for China’s Tianwen-1 rover.

[I]nformation published in an article (in Chinese) in the official China Space News publication following launch in July provides a specific primary landing site. The article reported landing coordinates of 110.318 degrees east longitude and 24.748 degrees north latitude, within the southern portion of Utopia Planitia. Online versions of the article have since been edited to remove the coordinates; however, these remain published by sources citing the article.

The mosaic on the right, made up of two images taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (MRO) context camera (found here and here) shows this location with the white cross. The white box is the area covered by the only image taken of this area by MRO’s high resolution camera.

As these photos show, this location, in a part of Mars’ northern lowland plains dubbed Utopia Planitia, is generally smooth and flat, making for a relatively safe landing site. At the same time, it has craters and some ridges and hills that could pose issues.

That the coordinates were removed from the Chinese press story suggests that this might be the prime site, but until Tianwen-1 gets into Mars orbit and begins scouting the site with its own high resolution images, they want to reserve judgement. The spacecraft arrives in orbit in February ’21, and they presently plan to land the rover in May. That gives them three months to scout this location as well as a secondary landing site on the other side of Mars, in the Chryse Planitia northern lowlands [pdf], the same region where Viking 1 and Mars Pathfinder landed.

Once they have done this they will be able to refine the location more precisely.

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 print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

 
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

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

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