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The eroding north wall of glacial-filled Harmakhis Valles

The north wall of Harmakhis Valles
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The picture to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on February 8, 2023 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

We are looking at the 2,400-foot-high cliff, its lower walls clearly cracking horizontally as they sag downward, with other large sections higher up appearing to have been eroded away in larger pieces.

Yet, the ground below this cliff wall appears to have no debris piles, the kind you would expect below a landslide. Instead, that ground appears to be very glacial in nature, with many linear parallel lines suggesting layers.

The overview map below provides us the context, and an explanation as to where that debris has gone.

Overview map

The red dot on the overview map near the middle of Harmakhis Valles marks this location, the north wall of that meandering canyon. The canyon itself has been shown with numerous orbital pictures to be filled with a glacier flowing downhill into Hellas Basin.

At 39 degrees south latitude, this cliff is right in the middle of the mid-latitude bands where many glacial features are found on Mars, so it is not surprising that the canyon is glacial filled. A March 19, 2011 MRO context camera picture of this location, showing the entire canyon, makes very clear that glacier. It resembles remarkably many similar glaciers on Earth, such as the Concordia glacier in the Himalayas below the world’s second highest peak, K2.

So, that debris might have fallen from the cliff wall, but it landed on a glacier that, while not appearing active now, at one point in the past was flowing downhill. Over time that glacier carried that debris away.

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.

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