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:

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Tianwen-1 takes first picture of Mars

Mars as seen by Tianwen-1 for the first time
Click for full image.

The new colonial movement: China’s Tianwen-1Mars spacecraft has taken its first picture of Mars, cropped and reduced to post here to the right.

The photo shows Valles Marineris as the darker splotch in the center-right of the hemisphere, with the northern lowland plain that this canyon feeds into, Chryse Planitia, the triangular dark area to the north east. Both Viking-1 and Mars Pathfinder landed in this region. The whitish border area on the triangle’s eastern flank is the area that Europe’s Rosalind Franklin rover will hopefully land in ’23.

The whitish area that caps the north pole is likely the annual mantle of dry ice that covers the planet’s polar regions down to about 60 degrees latitude each winter. Right now it is early spring in the northern hemisphere, and that mantle has only begun to sublimate away. In another few months that mantle will disappear entirely, exposing the terrain below it.

Finally, the very bright edge on the planet’s eastern limb is either caused by a cloud layer, or is simply an over-exposure. Hard to say which.

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.

One comment

  • Max

    A fuzzy black and white picture? I expected so much more. They had better pictures in the 50s.
    I’ve taken better pictures through a telescope.
    I was expecting to be impressed, so disappointing.

    If this was a space X camera, with a time lapse color enhanced photography, we would be watching as the ship draws closer, showing Mars growing larger, slowly rotating in all its mystic allure.
    It would be tantalizing, not boring. You can barely make out 3 of the volcanoes. (Valles Marineris is surprisingly distinct)

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