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My February birthday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black it now over. I sincerely and with deep gratitude thank all those who donated. Without your support I could not keep doing this, not so much because of the need for income to pay the bills, but because it tells me that there are people out there who want me to do this work. For those who did not contribute during the campaign, please consider adding your vote of support to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, in any one of the following ways:


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. Donate through Gabpay, using my email address zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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

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Martian dust storm goes global

Data from orbit and from Curiosity at Gale Crater confirms that the dust storm that has shut down Opportunity is now a global storm, encircling Mars.

The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a “planet-encircling” (or “global”) dust event.

Though Curiosity is on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, dust has steadily increased over it, more than doubling over the weekend. The sunlight-blocking haze, called “tau,” is now above 8.0 at Gale Crater — the highest tau the mission has ever recorded. Tau was last measured near 11 over Opportunity, thick enough that accurate measurements are no longer possible for Mars’ oldest active rover.

This will be first global storm to occur on Mars since Curiosity landed in 2012, thus giving scientists the best opportunity to study such an event.

Meanwhile, Opportunity remains silent. This does not mean it is dead, but that it doesn’t have enough sunlight to charge its batteries. It might die during this storm if the storm lasts long enough, but we won’t know one way or the other until the storm finally eases.

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.


  • wodun

    This is why we need nuclear power.

  • Orion314

    The electric universe model contends Mars global dust storms tie in with opposition of earth.

  • wayne

    nail on the head. Every probe should be powered by internal nuclear.

    –a repeat from me, but lots of good factoids contained therein:

    Mars Dust Storm News
    JPL teleconference 6-13-18

    –Teleconference reports the “Tau” was “11.5,” and they have pictures of what the sun currently looks like from the surface.
    -Opportunity is powered by solar cells, but in the main instrument bay there are multiple small nuclear units that provide 8 watts of heat-energy to the electronics. (This is the first time I’ve heard this described, and I am unclear on specifics.)
    -“Maximum design low-temperature is -50C, maximum operating low-temp is -40C, and during this storm they expect low temps to bottom out at -37C.”

    –On the upside, from past storm experience– accumulated dust on the optics has tended to shed itself almost completely during good weather. The camera’s are finely calibrated and any remaining dust aberration can be taken out digitally in post-production.

  • wayne

    can you give me the 5 cent tour on the “Electric Universe?”
    I see a lot of youtube stuff listed with that Topic, but I’ve never delved deeply.

  • BSJ


    Plug nickel tour. In the electric universe, impact craters are formed by lightning, not impacts…

    Opportunity was designed to only last 90 days. Would have been a waste to send it with a nuclear source.

  • wayne

    thank you, and…point taken.
    -just a personal preference for over-engineering. (I only play an engineer, on the interweb)
    And yes– can’t beat the lifespan!

    tangential– (we are, living in the Future)
    “Mariner 6 and 7 Programs Missions to Mars,”
    JPL 1969

    [from the Atlas Centaur Heritage Film Collection which was donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum by Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance. The Collection contains 3,000 reels of 16-millimeter film. ]

  • BSJ

    Yeah, some of the E-Universe stuff sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Other times, not so much!

    I checked out when I read about that part of the “theory”.

  • Orion314

    look up thunderbolts project , on youtube , a starter for the electric universe model

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