Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, 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.

More evidence of ample shallow ice in Martian mid-latitudes

In a new paper released this week, scientists using instruments on both Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found more evidence that there is a large amount of widespread ice close to the surface in the Martian mid-latitudes. As the scientists note in their abstract:

We show that water ice is present sometimes just a few centimeters below the surface, at locations where future landing is realistic, under mobile material that could easily be moved around. This ice could be exploited on‐site for drinking water, breathable oxygen, etc., at a much lower cost than if brought from Earth.

They deduced this by looking at how that ice would change the seasonal temperatures in the atmosphere directly above. Cooler regions suggested more ice close to the surface, while warmer regions suggested either no ice or ice deep below the surface. While this approach is indirect and did not directly detect ice, their conclusions match perfectly with all previous research. Below is a global map of Mars taken from the paper’s the supplementary material [docx file], reduced and annotated by me, showing the regions that seem to have ample shallow ice. Regular readers of Behind the Black will instantly recognize these locations.

Regions of shallow ice on Mars

Five regions are named where shallow ice is suspected. Four have previously been subjects of news stories here about possible water.

A. Southwest of Hellas Basin. This is the same region where other scientists have found numerous exposed scarps of ice.

C. Arcadia Planitia. This is SpaceX’s first choice as its candidate landing site, first with Red Dragon and now with Starship.

E. Cebrenia. Though I am unfamiliar with this named region, the map indicates that it corresponds closely with Utopia Basin, a place where ample evidence of ice has been found repeatedly. See here and here for only two examples.

F. Deuteronilus and Protonilus Mensae These regions of chaos terrain are places where evidence has been found of numerous buried inactive glaciers.

The last region, north of Alba Mons, is also near where Phoenix landed and found ice just below the surface.

If this paper was the only evidence of shallow ice at these locations I would consider the conclusion very uncertain, considering the indirect methods used. Combined however with all the other research that aligns so well, it would seem this paper confirms the rest of the research. These are places where we will find water ice on Mars, close to the surface and easily accessible.


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