The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.


The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.


Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.


To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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


If Paypal doesn'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
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Strange corroding features on Mars

Strange corroding features on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and enhanced to post here, was taken by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on October 4, 2020. It shows what appears to be features that are either corroding or eroding away, with the lower areas filled with rippling sand dunes.

The circular features might be ancient craters. The material that partly fills them might be a layer of dust or sand that the wind is slowly blowing away to dig out the depressions along the southern cliff wall.

According to the MRO science team’s interpretation of the colors produced by the high resolution camera [pdf], the dark blue colors here are likely “coarser-grained materials (sand and rocks)”, while the orange-red material on the higher terrain is likely dust.

Could this material be evidence of buried ice eroding away? At first I thought so, and then I took a look at the photo’s location, as shown in the overview image below.

Overview map

The small white box marks this photo’s location, only one degree north of the Martian equator and in Nepenthes Mensae, a region of chaos terrain between the northern lowland plains and the cratered southern highlands. It also sits about 480 miles west of the lander InSight and about 560 miles east of Gale Crater where Curiosity is roving.

While such similar terrain above 30 degrees north latitude produces a region with so many glacial features I call it glacial country, at the equator here it is unlikely we are looking at any glacial features.

This chaos terrain probably formed in a similar manner as the other chaos terrain in those higher latitudes, erosion from either flowing water or glacial movement. That water however could only have been here a long time ago, when Mars had more water/ice on its surface or when the planet’s rotational tilt or obliquity was higher than today’s 25 degrees and this region was colder than the poles, bringing water down from those poles to fall as snow and form glaciers.

When this was happening here it was also likely the same eon when water existed in Gale Crater as well. Pinning that time down however will require getting samples and dating them, something that will not happen until humans are on Mars.

What this image shows today however is likely an erosion process of surface dust, being blown away by the wind.

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.

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.


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