Conscious Choice cover

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.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Martian pits or dark splotches?

Martian pits or dark splotches?
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on January 2, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a windswept sandy region of ridges and dunes with two dark features nestled between ridges.

What are these dark patches? At the available resolution they appear to be deep pits, with the one on the right having a significant overhang. And if these are pits, they would appear significantly different than most of the previously identified Martian pits, which are usually somewhat circular in shape. These features have very complex shapes, as if the pit is conforming itself to the terrain that surrounds it.

The resolution, however, is not good enough to confirm this interpretation. These dark patches could also be exposed volcanic material, darker than the surrounding terrain. The location, as shown in the overview map below, adds weight to this interpretation.

Overview map

The white cross indicates the location of these dark features, placing them inside the Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest deposit of volcanic ash on Mars. In other places in or near this formation where dust devils have blown the ash away the underlying volcanic material appears darker, though not exactly like this.

There is a third possibility, though more unlikely. These dark features might be volcanic vents, as this location is also located in what I like to label Mars’ volcano country. This is the least likely hypothesis, however, as the features bear little resemblance to other vents that I have seen so far on Mars. Can’t rule it out, however.

Ah, the uncertainty of science. Makes you want to go there and dig a little deeper to find out what these really are, doesn’t it?


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Alex Andrite

    “Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped to post here, was taken on January 2, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).”

    elephant man.

  • Max

    Very unusual, curious.
    The lower right picture has a large circular rock like a big “cog artifact” in a lake of black goo…

    It’s the second time I noticed a circular object… In a prior photograph of a canyon contributing to a large flow that went off several cliffs… There’s a circular bridge crossing the canyon with a few objects on top of it. Too blurry to tell if it’s an obstruction, or a natural Bridge over the canyon.

    I’m inspecting this original picture, there’s a dozen black splotches on the ancient mud flood plain. No prominent “shadows” from the dune peaks… some of the black material appears along the crest of dunes like it’s a heavier particle different from the blown sand. (I wish it was in color, it might be dark blue) In other places, the blackness fills the low spots where there would be puddles or lakes.
    Because the position of the sun is mostly overhead, I don’t think they are windows. Dark material perhaps, uncovered by the weathering of billions of years. But this could be wrong as I can see lava flows? Like snake River beds all across the top of the picture. Now raised above the plain. Also in lower left at the base of one of the taller ridges with the largest deposit of black beneath it, the black has spread down wind like a vent, but it could just be the wind uncovering of some dark material underneath.

    So many mysteries. So many planets, so little time.

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 *