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.

Wind-blown dark material on Mars

Dark wind-blown material on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on May 13, 2021 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It shows a cluster of small depressions from which has blown dark material across the ground to the south. The full image also shows two craters north and south of this cluster that have similar dark material blown from their interiors.

When I first looked at this image, I wondered if the dark material and these depressions signaled a recently active volcanic vent where magma had spewed upward to stain the nearby ground. See for example this recent post about what some scientists believe might the most recent volcanic event so far found on Mars. I emailed several scientists for their thoughts, all of whom said this appears to not be active volcanism but merely windblown dark material.

Kim Seelos, science operations lead for MRO’s visible-near infrared spectrometer, put it simply. “My own reading of this image is that the dark areas here are likely akin to wind streaks.” Instead of the dark material being thrown from the depressions by a volcanic event, it was swept to the south by the prevailing winds.

How that dark material got into the depressions, and why it was so comparably darker than the surrounding terrain, remains unclear. David Horvath of the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona speculated that the low hills just north of the dark patch might be a factor.

The dark patch could be the result of a build-up of sand against those hills when the wind was blowing a different direction that is now being redistributed.

In other words, the dark dust could have piled up against those low hills when the primary wind direction was from the south, and is now being dispersed back to the south by today’s prevailing winds that now come from the north.

Overview map

The overview map to the right marks the location of this photo with a red cross. It sits at the southern edge of the Medusae Fossae Formation, the largest volcanic ash deposit on Mars. Thus, while there does not appear to be a lot of dark ash in the full image, the dark splotches might be marking depressions where this ash was trapped when the volcanic ash of the Medusae formation was first being deposited. With time, most of that initial ash on the surface has blown away, leaving this terrain generally barren of it. Now the trapped ash in the depressions is being pulled out by the prevailing southerly winds, creating these dark splotches.

All speculation. There isn’t yet enough data to form a reliable hypothesis that explains what we see here. All we can do is speculate.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.

You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


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


If Patreon or Paypal don'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
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Max

    Dark areas seem to fill a low spot in the land, ground water coming to the surface? The earth equivalent of a swap? at the base of glacier flow leaving dark minerals behind that did not blow far from the source?
    The dark material doesn’t seem to fit the blowhole pattern we’ve seen before.

  • pawn

    Maybe the darker dust has a better chance of being released from the original mineral matrix and is finer than what it leaves behind and can be picked up easier by the Martian winds. Maybe the small difference in solar heating due to it’s color possible coupled with a marked difference in thermal expansion allows it to work it’s way free of the originating rock.

    I wonder how surface temperatures differ on Mars differ from Earth from direct solar heating because of a lower capacity for convection.

    Just wild speculation of course.

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.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *