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.

Watching Ingenuity’s flight

NASA has now announced the planned flight time for its Ingenuity helicopter now on the Martian surface, including information for watching the live stream of the attempt.

A livestream confirming Ingenuity’s first flight is targeted to begin around 3:30 a.m. EDT Monday, April 12, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the JPL YouTube and Facebook channels.

I will embed the JPL live stream on Behind the Black when it goes live.

Meanwhile, Perseverance’s weather station is now functioning, providing its first weather reports from Jezero Crater.

[E]ngineers now have atmospheric data from three different locations on the Red Planet – Perseverance, Curiosity, and NASA’s InSight lander, which hosts the Temperature and Wind sensors for InSight (TWINS). The trio will enable a deeper understanding of Martian weather patterns, events, and atmospheric turbulence that could influence planning for future missions. In the near term, MEDA’s information is helping decide the best atmospheric conditions for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flights.

As Ingenuity achieved pre-flight milestones, a MEDA report from the 43rd and 44th Martian days, or sols, of the mission (April 3-4 on Earth) showed a temperature high of minus 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 22 degrees Celsius) and low of minus 117.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 83 degrees Celsius) in Jezero Crater. MEDA also measured wind gusts at around 22 mph (10 meters per second).

Those numbers are about normal for Jezero Crater at 18 degrees north latitude in the spring.


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  • Patrick Underwood

    April 12th. Yuri’s Day!

  • Mike Borgelt

    Sixty years ago to the day.
    Wonder if Blair K. Ivey’s email to the NASA team moved it from the 11th?

  • I would be surprised if there were not many emails noting the date.

  • Jeff Wright

    Would a night flight be better? Bad for optics….but the air is denser-at dawn then?

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Jeff Wright, a night flight would kinda defeat the whole object. It’s not a science mission, it’s a test of technology mission, so as much data as possible is required. It would be kinda hard to film the thing trying to fly at night! That said, you have a point, I’m not sure of the day/night difference in air density on Mars, but given the super-fine margins this thing is working on, it could make sense for the inevitable drone swarms that will roam the Martian landscape to travel at night!

  • Max

    There is also the temperature consideration. The colder the batteries, the less available energy. That’s possibly why the batteries are so large. The mass might be too heavy to lift, despite 1/3 the gravity. Low air pressure limits the capabilities. I am hoping for the best, we will see.

    Even helium balloons, which I favor, would have a hard time staying a loft at night due to the cold.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Max…. Something we agree upon! Although I am having a hard time with the maths given the fraction of gravity and the much much thinner atmosphere than our planet. Dirgables are certainly the way to go, and I think hydrogen would be a viable option. Virtually no oxygen so not flammable, and double the lift of helium.

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