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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.

4. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
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The alien buttes of Mars

Weird Mars

The image above is cropped from a panorama created by reader Phil Veerkamp from images taken by Curiosity’s mast camera on August 25, 2016 of the terrain that partly surrounds the rover since it passed the Balanced Rock and traveled beyond Murray Buttes

The full image is too large to post here. However, if you click on the first link above you can either download it and peruse it at your leisure, or view it with your browser. You will definitely want to do so, as it is high resolution and shows a lot of strange and alien geology, including multiple slabs seemingly hanging in space because of the low gravity. (Hint: Be sure to pan all the way to the right!) On the image’s left Mount Sharp can be seen raising in the background. Below the fold I have annotated the most recent Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image of Curiosity’s location to indicate what I think is the area included in this panorama. This MRO image also shows that once Curiosity gets through the narrow gap to the south, the path heading south up the mountain’s slopes will, for awhile at least, be relatively open with few large obstacles. The view will also change, as the rover will be out of the region of buttes.

Curiosity's future path

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.


  • Localfluff

    Wow! Hollywood couldn’t make this landscape up in the 1950s. It looks like a world smashed to pieces by a sledgehammer. And the protrusion at the far right looks unpossible. And there’s another one further away, about 1/6 of the image width from the right.

    OT: Is there any hacker here who can help me find that crooked email deletion software? I’ve searched for bitchleech but the google doesn’t turn up with anything helpful. :~p

  • Ken Franks

    In refference to the rather extensive and relatively thin outcroppings of strata in the image, I would expect a much more extensive debris field under them. This, however, does not appear to be the case. This is strictly an obsevation from an uneducated viewer of the dynamics of Martian geophysics. I would assume that this is due to the extremely slow nature of erosion on the Martian surface. As there is no liquid water erosion, the primary mechanism would have to be wind and any resulting atmospheric born substrate (not accounting for fracturing of rock due to extreme thermal conditions). The outcroppings, even with the low gravitational force, I would assume must be rather ridged and the interdispersed layers significantly softer to account for the degree of overhang.
    Just sayin.
    Just a

  • Your tax dollars *really* at work. Very nice stuff and thanks for posting it. Interesting fractures middle right. Really interesting to see wind eroded structures in a low-g environment. I’d pay money to see that . . . oh, wait.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    The outcropping on the left shows extensive layering of rocks. I am struck by the almost uniform thickness of these slabs.

  • Alex

    Now, we need real paleontologist or at least geologist on site to look for fossils in these stratified deposits by splitting the layers step by step . This cannot be done by a robot.

  • Vladislaw

    On the sphinx enclosure in Egypt you can see wind erosion on different hardness levels of limestone. The erosion here reminds me of that. Hard layer then a soft layer, built up over time and then it finally gets exposed to wind weathering and they get defined.

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