Scroll down to read this post.

 

I am now in the third week of my July fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black, celebrating its 14th anniversary. Thank you to everyone that donated so generously in the past two weeks. I cannot express how much it means to me, especially since you do not have to donate anything to read my work.

 

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.

 

Please consider supporting my work here at Behind the Black.

 

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
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.


Mars’ weird windblown surface

Wind scoured Martian surface

Cool image time! The image on the right, taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and cropped from a wider view of a small crater and a small volcano caldera, certainly appears blurred and out of focus. Is MRO malfunctioning?

Nope. The blurring is actually an optical illusion caused almost entirely by our own assumptions of what a planet surface should look like combined with the alien processes occurring on Mars that have no equivalent here on Earth.

Below the fold is a wider view from the full image, showing the area of the cropped image to the right as well as the entire crater. Below that is another full resolution inset, this time showing the features on the crater rim that are sharp and stand out clearly. The blurriness of the rest of the image is not because the image is out-of-focus, but because a steady northwest-to- southeast wind has distorted everything in the same direction.

wider view of wind scoured Mars surface

sharp features on crater rim

As noted at the website:

When looking at the scene for the first time, the image seems motion blurred. However, upon a closer look, the smaller, young craters are pristine, so the image must be sharp and the “blurriness” is due to the processes acting on the terrain. This suggests that the deflation-produced grooves, along with the crater and the caldera, are old features and deflation is not very active today. Alternatively, perhaps these craters are simply too young to show signs of degradation.

This deeply wind-scoured terrain type is unique to Mars. Wind-carved stream-lined landforms on Earth are called “yardangs,” but they don’t form extensive terrains like this one. The basaltic lavas on the flanks of this volcano have been exposed to wind for such a long time that there are no parallels on Earth. Terrestrial landscapes and terrestrial wind patterns change much more rapidly than on Mars.

wind scoured caldara

This still seems hard to believe, but to the right is another full resolution crop from the full image, this time showing the small volcanic caldara. That steady wind has not only pushed material right to the edge of the northwest rim so that some of it is overhanging the pit, it has pushed the material on the opposite rim away from the pit, smoothing it out in the process. You can even see one large chunk that has slide away, pushed in the direction of the prevailing winds.

As they note, there is no process like this on Earth. The images here demonstrate again that we need to be very careful about any initial conclusions we draw from pictures taken of the surface of an alien planet. Some things might look familiar, and in fact that similarity is often helpful in trying to decipher what is going on, but we must not assume that our initial interpretations are correct. The alienness of the surface could be fooling us.

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

3 comments

  • wodun

    The images here demonstrate again that we need to be very careful about any initial conclusions we draw from pictures taken of the surface of an alien planet.

    Hmm, a possible conclusion to draw from this picture is to avoid this area when picking a site for a colony or some other activity other than studying sandblasting on Mars.

  • BSJ

    To overhang, the material must be very cohesive.

    To my eye the surface looks a lot like degraded snow drifts. Or drifted snow that has seen warmer temperatures and then re-freezes.

  • J Fincannon

    I have seen this kind of blurring in some aircraft contrails. And some t-shirt fonts.

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *