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.

One last look at a Martian mountaintop

Siccar Point
For the original images go here and here.

The image above is a mosaic made from two Curiosity navigation photos taken on October 23, 2021 and combined, cropped, and reduced to post here. It shows the top 30 feet or so of Siccar Point, the spectacular outcrop that I have featured several times previously.

Curiosity has now traveled past this outcrop, so that this view above is no longer visible to the rover. I post it now as a farewell image of what I think is the most breath-taking feature yet seen by any planetary lander — manned or unmanned — since the first set down on the Moon in the mid-1960s. It also illustrates with great clarity the alien nature of Mars. Those delicate overhanging rocks would not be possible on Earth, with a gravity about two and a half times heavier than Mars.

Note too that I have not enhanced the contrast or brightness. I think the twilight light here actually gives us a sense of the real brightness of a clear Martian day. Because the Sun is much farther away, even at high noon it provides much less illumination than on Earth. A bright day on Mars to our Earth-adapted eyes will always feel like dusk.

Meanwhile the science team is quickly pushing the rover south, to get…

…closer to the area we are targeting for our next drill campaign. This drive should leave us with bedrock in the workspace for additional contact science on the weekend. This terrain continues to be very challenging, with large boulders, sharp rocks that are wheel hazards, and sand ripples, like the terrain shown in the image. These drives take a while to plan to make sure we are avoiding all the hazards while getting to where science wants to go. Our paths end up looking a little “drunk” as we weave our way around obstacles.


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  • Andrew_W

    “A bright day on Mars to our Earth-adapted eyes will always feel like dusk.”

    Dusk is defined as the darkest stage of twilight, twilight is the period before sunrise and after sunset when natural illumination is only from refracted/reflected sunlight.
    Sources I’ve found say the levels of illumination on Mars at the equator when the Sun is overhead are similar to those on a clear winter’s day at noon at a midlatitudes on Earth.
    Interestingly once you take into account cloud cover surface insolation levels on Mars and Earth are actually quite similar.

  • Viewing this photo brings three words to mind …

    … watch your step.

  • Robert Pratt

    That photo is fabulous.

  • Back before New Horizons passed by Pluto NASA had a web page up which told you what minute after sunset provided equivalent light to high noon on Pluto in your area. It wasn’t very long after the sun set — and long before “dusk” (late twilight). Too bad they took that page down….

  • @ Robert Pratt:

    D’accord. One of the best ex-Terra images I’ve seen.

  • I’m a bit surprised that the edges are not sharper. I expected less erosion, but I suppose that these features are much, much older than their equivalents on Earth explains it.

    It is an amazing picture.

    As for illumination, our eyes are (weirdly) logarithmic. What we perceive and absolute light levels are not closely correlated at the bright and dim levels.

    Word of the day (that I knew existed and could not think of, then tripped over in a novel): Gloaming.

  • markedup2 recalled: “Word of the day (that I knew existed and could not think of, then tripped over in a novel): Gloaming.”

    I’d seen that word, too, in a poem I read in a public school (!).

    “In the Gloaming
    by Meta Orred

    In the gloaming*, oh, my darling!
    When the lights are dim and low,
    And the quiet shadows falling,
    Softly come and softly go;

    When the winds are sobbing faintly
    With a gentle unknown woe,
    Will you think of me, and love me,
    As you did once long ago?

    In the gloaming, oh, my darling!
    Think not bitterly of me!
    Tho’ I passed away in silence
    Left you lonely, set you free;

    For my heart was crush’d with longing,
    What had been could never be;
    It was best to leave you thus, dear,
    Best for you, and best for me.”

    I’ve thought the word was more applicable to the UK, which seems to have the right climate for it.

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