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On February 5, 2023 I will celebrate my 70th birthday. Yay! As I do every year during this birthday month, I run a campaign to raise money to support my work here at Behind The Black. I do not run ads. My only support comes from my readers, which leaves me utterly free to speak my mind openly about space, culture, and politics. Please consider supporting me in this work by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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Martian crater with mound of ice? mud? hardened sand?

Crater with mound
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on October 31, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a small 4,000-foot-wide crater that is practically filled with a smooth, almost perfectly spherical mound, with the rest of the crater interior filled with sand dunes and what appears to be glacial debris.

Is that mound also glacial debris, covered with a layer of dirt and dust to protect it? If so, one wonders how the ice ended up in this shape. There are other craters with similar mounds in this region, all suggesting glacial debris but with the same question. Craters with lots of near surface ice in this region more often have a squishy blobby look.

Is the mound instead possibly mud, expressing the existence of a mud/ice volcano? If so, it shows no central pit or caldera, which is typical of such things.

Is it hardened sand? Martian dust that gets blown into craters generally gets trapped there, building up over time. If so, however, why does it have a smooth almost perfectly rounded shape? The ripple sand dunes surrounding it are more like what you would expect.

The small craters on the mound also tell us that it is hardened and old, no matter what it is made of.

Overview map

The dot just north of 30 degrees latitude marks this crater’s location, in the northern lowland plains of Mars. It therefore would not be surprising to find near surface ice here. The closeness to the 30 degree latitude line however also suggests that near surface ice could possibly be reduced.

Thus, the location really does not help us determine the nature of what we are looking at.

I must add that the image’s colors don’t help much either. The greenish areas could either be coarse bedrock, or frost, based on how the scientists interpret these colors [pdf]. The picture was taken in northern winter, so frost is possible, but if so, it is mysteriously located mostly on the warmer south-facing slopes, not the colder north-facing slopes as one would expect. This is why it might be coarse rocks or bedrock instead. This conclusion is strengthened by an image using a different color filter, which shows this greenish material as purplish-blue, which in that filter also suggests coarse rocks or bedrock.

In either case, the colors don’t tell us what the mound is made of, other than it is covered with dust, based on its yellow color.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


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.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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