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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four 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
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Machete Mesa on Mars

Machete Mesa on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on November 30, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a variety of ridges in a region of Mars called Arabia Terra, which is also the largest transition zone between the Martian southern cratered highlands and the northern lowland plains.

While this picture illustrates some nice geological facts about Mars (see below), I post it simply because of the dramatic sharpness of the ridge on top of the mesa, which I guess is several hundred feet high, but only a few feet across, at most, at its peak. A hike along this ridgeline would be a truly thrilling experience, one that the future human settlers on Mars will almost certainly find irresistible. Put this location on your planned tourist maps of Mars. It will likely be an oft-visited site.

Overview map

Now for the geology. The black dot just south of 30 degree north latitude marks the location of this mesa. As it is in the dry equatorial regions, it is thus no surprise that the terrain in this picture appears bone dry.

However, the parallel small ridges to the south of the mesa, that are also aligned with the ridge, suggest to my eye the possibility of past glacial activity. Once, ice might have slid across this ground, leaving behind scour marks and those parallel ridges.

Or not. I am guessing. The parallel ridges could also be the result of wind erosion caused by north-south prevailing winds. These ridges might also be volcanic dikes, where lava pushes up through cracks, and remains long after the surrounding terrain erodes away because the lava is harder and more resistant to erosion.

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


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