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 available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can 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. Note that the ebook is still for sale for $3.99, but that price will go up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

Where to get legal help if you have been blacklisted by today’s control freaks

As I have been chronicling the left’s shameless effort to blacklist, blackball, censor, and destroy its opposition during the past year and a half, I have also begun to assembly a list of non-profit law firms that are dedicated to fight this oppression, and have been increasingly successfully in winning their cases.

It seems appropriate therefore to provide that list to the public. Several blacklisted readers of these columns have noted in comments that they wish to also sue, and I would like to help them do so in every way possible. The following list, though obviously not all inclusive, describes what appear to be the most active and successful non-profit law firms presently winning first amendment cases nationwide. (Note too that the ACLU is not on the list, as that organization a long time ago abandoned its foundational goal of protecting free speech and has instead become an agent acting to increase the left’s power over ordinary citizens.)

In choosing among these law firms, make sure you review their entire website and the many cases they are handling. Some firms might be less appropriate for your situation, and it is necessary on your part to do the due diligence to figure this out.
» Read more


NASA imposes new rules for any private launches to ISS

NASA has added several new rules for any private launches to ISS, now requiring that each flight include at least one experienced former NASA astronaut.

From the actual procurement notice:

NASA is also in the process of finalizing details associated with a new requirement that upcoming private astronaut missions include a former flown NASA (U.S.) government astronaut as the mission commander. A former NASA astronaut provides experienced guidance for the private astronauts during pre-flight preparation through mission execution. Based on their past on-orbit and NASA experience, the PAM commander provides a link between the resident ISS expedition crew and the private astronauts and reduces risk to ISS operations and PAM/ISS safety. Specific details of the requirement will be documented in future solicitations, as well as in updated documentation and in the solicitation technical library.

The new rules also require the companies to submit their research plans twelve months before launch, as well as reserve a longer time for the private passengers to adapt to weightlessness on the station before initiating that work.

The changes appear to make sense, based on the experience of the first passenger flight of Axiom sent up to ISS earlier this year. However, their existence will likely encourage the arrival of the private space stations in order to break free from NASA’s rules.


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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Momentus has now deployed seven of ten customer payloads from its Vigoride tug

Capitalism in space: Despite technical communications issues after deployment of the first test flight of its Vigoride orbital tug, Momentus yesterday announced that has now deployed seven of ten customer payloads.

This announcement is somewhat of a surprise, as in June the company had said it would not be able to deploy anymore payloads due to the communications and solar panel problems Vigoride was experiencing.

The update also noted that the company is incorporating changes in its next Vigoride tug, scheduled to launch in November.


The scattered debris from Perseverance’s landing, now being tracked by the rover

Perseverance's parachute, as photographed by Ingenuity
Click for full image.

A piece of string on Mars
Click for full image.

The Perseverance science team today posted a detailed update on the various pieces of debris that both the rover and the Ingenuity helicopter have been tracking since both landed on Mars in February 2021.

Some of the EDL [entry, descent, landing] hardware broke into smaller pieces when it impacted the surface. These pieces of EDL debris have been spotted in images of the Hogwallow Flats region, a location roughly 2 km to the northwest of the EDL hardware crash zones. As of Sol 508 (July 24, 2022), the operations team has catalogued roughly half a dozen pieces of suspected EDL debris in this area. Some of these EDL debris are actively blowing around in the wind. So far, we’ve seen shiny pieces of thermal blanket material, Dacron netting material that is also used in thermal blankets, and a stringlike material that we conclude to be a likely piece of shredded Dacron netting.

To the right are two of the most interesting examples. The top image shows the parachute and associated equipment from the landing, taken by Ingenuity during a flight in April 2022. That image, when compared with an earlier picture taken from orbit, showed that the wind of Mars, though incredibly weak, had been able to shift the parachutes edges.

The second image shows the string that the rover photographed on July 12, 2022, and had blown away four days later when Perseverance re-photographed this site.

Today’s update notes that the area in the crater they have dubbed Hogwallow Flats “appears to be a natural collecting point for windblown EDL debris.” The flats are an area at the foot of the delta that flowed into Jezero Crater in the past, and is an area where Perseverance has been traveling most recently.

That the wind has been able to move small pieces so effectively is I think somewhat of a surprise. That it is gathering the material against the crater’s western cliffs suggests the prevailing winds here blow to the west.


Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

Australian Space Agency confirms debris is from SpaceX Dragon capsule

Officials from the Australian Space Agency have inspected and confirmed that the debris that landed recently in the southeast Australia came from service module/trunk of a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

The agency had been alerted by Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist from the Australian National University, who first realised the timing and location of the debris falling coincided with a SpaceX spacecraft which re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 7am on 9 July, 20 months after its launch in November 2020.

Tucker believes the debris came from the unpressurised trunk of the SpaceX capsule, which is critical to take off but dumped when returning to earth.

This capsule was Resilience, launched on November 15, 2020 on SpaceX’s second manned launch for NASA. The capsule and crew returned in April, 2021. The service module apparently remained in orbit until July 2022, when its orbit decayed.

This service module was considered small enough it would burn up in the atmosphere. That assumption was apparently wrong. Though the pieces caused no damage, SpaceX needs to revise its operations to make sure future service modules will come back over the ocean, just in case sections reach the surface.


Thank you All!

July has now ended and so has my annual July fund-raising drive for Behind the Black, celebrating the website’s twelfth anniversary.

As always, I have been astonished by the number of people who freely donate or subscribe to my website, even though the site is available totally for free. It tells me I must be doing something right. Regardless, I cannot express loudly enough my heartfelt appreciation for this support. Thank you all, again and again and again!

I will leave this thank you at the top of the page for the next two days, just to make sure everyone can see it. And if you suddenly decide to donate or subscribe now, just find the tip jar elsewhere on the webpage for instructions.

Scroll down for new stories and updates.


Leaving Earth cover

There are now only 4 copies left of the now out-of-print hardback of Leaving Earth. The price for an autographed copy of this rare collector's item is now $150 (plus $5 shipping).


To get your copy while the getting is good, please send a $155 check (which includes $5 shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


Leaving Earth is also available as an inexpensive ebook!


Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel, can be purchased as an ebook everywhere for only $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.


If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big oppressive tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Winner of the 2003 Eugene M. Emme Award of the American Astronautical Society.

"Leaving Earth is one of the best and certainly the most comprehensive summary of our drive into space that I have ever read. It will be invaluable to future scholars because it will tell them how the next chapter of human history opened." -- Arthur C. Clarke

500 healthcare workers, fired for refusing COVID jab, win $10.3 million lawsuit


Bring a gun to a knife fight: Because NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois refused in 2020 to give any employee a religious exemption from getting the COVID jab and thus fired 500 healthcare workers, those workers sued, and last week they won a $10.3 million settlement from the university.

As part of the settlement agreement, NorthShore will pay $10,337,500 to compensate hundreds of health care employees. NorthShore will also change its unlawful “no religious accommodations” policy to make it consistent with the law, and to provide religious accommodations in every position across its numerous facilities. No position in any NorthShore facility will be considered off limits to unvaccinated employees with approved religious exemptions.

In addition, employees who were terminated because of their religious refusal of the COVID shots will be eligible for rehire if they apply within 90 days of final settlement approval by the court, and they will retain their previous seniority level.

The non-profit law firm that brought the case, Liberty Counsel, is taking a 20% cut of this class action, rather than the traditional 33% cut. As for the 500 fired workers:
» Read more


Today’s Twitter links

Today I am beginning a new mid-day feature on Behind the Black, thanks to the effort of reader Jay, who has recently been acting as a stringer by sending me new stories he finds on Twitter. I don’t do Twitter, so his help has been very much appreciated.

Most of these Twitter stories however do not merit a full post. Most are usually just interesting images, or PR updates from companies and space agencies announcing future events. Up to now I check them out, and then file them away. I decided we might as well post them each day, all at once, in a single post. Jay has agreed to gladly help make this happen.

So, let’s begin:

It is unknown how much information China will release much about this launch. Stay tuned.

I will only believe Blue Origin has delivered a flightworthy engine to ULA when ULA actually begins installing that engine on a Vulcan rocket. Until then, I view everything Blue Origin posts on Twitter on this subject to be nothing more than empty air.


Curiosity heads into the pass

Mosaic by Curiosity
Click for full mosaic.

Overview map
Click for interactive map.

Cool image time! The mosaic above, cropped, reduced, and annotated to post here, was created from 31 navigation images taken by the Mars rover Curiosity, and shows the rover’s upcoming drive. From the science team’s July 29, 2022 update:

We are attempting to reach a high point, just at the top right edge of the image, so we can look down into the valley to see if there is a way out on the other side and to help plan our path forward. High tilts, sand, and large and small rocks clutter the terrain, requiring the Rover Planners to pick their way around while making sure they stay clear of the hazards.

After the drive, we took a lot of imaging from our new location, including a 360 degree Mastcam mosaic and an upper tier of imaging to catch the tall relief of the valley walls.

The green dot in the image above as well as the overview map to the right indicates the approximate location on the cliff face of a previously observed recurring slope lineae, streaks that appear to come and go seasonally whose origin is still not understood.

The blue dot on the map marks the rover’s position on August 1, 2022. The yellow lines indicate the approximate area covered by the mosaic above. The large red dots on the overview indicate the rover’s original planned route, with the smaller red dots indicating the hoped-for route to get back to that path.

In the far distance the upper slopes of Mount Sharp can faintly be seen through the winter dust haze. That mountain is about 18,000 feet high, though its actual peak is not yet visible. Curiosity is still about 16,000 feet below that peak. Kukenan is about 1,500 feet high. The cliff with the slope lineae is probably about 400-500 feet high The two side hills that delineate the pass ahead are probably no more than 200 feet high.


Flying car gets approved by FAA

Samson Switchblade

A small airplane that quickly converts to a three-wheel car has now been approved for airworthiness by the FAA, paving the way for the first flight tests.

After 14 years of development, the Samson Switchblade – a fast, street-legal three-wheeler that converts at the touch of a button into a 200-mph (322-km/h) airplane – has been approved for airworthiness by the FAA. The team is now preparing for flight tests.

The Switchblade is named after the knife-like way its wings swing out from beneath its two-seat cabin when it’s time to fly. The tail, too, swings out from where it’s stowed behind the large pusher prop, then unfolds into a generous T shape. Samson says the entire push-button conversion from street-legal trike to aircraft takes less than three minutes, and while it’s yet to demonstrate the entire process on a physical prototype, it looks like it’ll be a pretty spectacular process.

The goal is to create something you can drive from your garage to the nearest small runway, take off to fly to another nearby airport, and then quickly drive to your destination, without ever having to get out of your seat.

More information can be found at the company’s website, which also says it is “only months away from first flight”, and expects to sell its first kits for customers 18 months later. The company also says it has 1,500 customers who have already placed reservations to buy it.


First Webb infrared image of Cartwheel Galaxy

Webb's view of the Cartwheel Galaxy
Click for full image.

Scientists today have released a new infrared image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, taken by two instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope. That image is to the right, reduced to post here. From the caption:

In this near- and mid-infrared composite image, MIRI data are colored red while NIRCam data are colored blue, orange, and yellow. Amidst the red swirls of dust, there are many individual blue dots, which represent individual stars or pockets of star formation. NIRCam also defines the difference between the older star populations and dense dust in the core and the younger star populations outside of it.

The galaxy, located about a half billion light years away, is one of the more well known astronomical objects due to its unusual shape, believed caused by a collision with a smaller galaxy sometime in the past. Earlier this year for example astronomers discovered a supernovae had exploded in the galaxy sometime in 2021. To see a 1995 Hubble optical image, go here.

This Webb image reveals many new details previously obscured by dust.


Long March 5B pieces crash near villages in Malaysia and Indonesia

Several days after the July 30th uncontrolled de-orbit of China’s Long March 5B core stage locals in both Malaysia and Indonesia are finding large sections, some of which apparently fell close to villages.

A charred ring of metal about five metres in diameter was found on Sunday in Kalimantan, Indonesia, according to a Malaysian news outlet. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the metal appeared to be the exact size of the Chinese rocket’s core stage.

…“It looks like the end cap of a rocket stage propellant tank,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s from the rocket … it’s in the right place at the right time and looks like it is from the right kind of rocket.”

The article at the link also describes several other incidences, including one in which two families were evacuated when a piece landed near their home. I have embedded the video of one news report below, showing several of these impacts, many of which which apparently hit the ground hard enough to create craters several feet deep.

The article contains a big error, stating “there was no international law” forbidding the uncontrolled crash of such debris, but this is false. The Outer Space Treaty requires all nations to take action to avoid such incidents, and makes them liable to any damage. China is violating this treaty with every Long March 5B launch.
» Read more


Russia launches military satellite

Russia yesterday used its Soyuz-2 rocket to launch a military satellite believed intended as an “inspector” satellite, designed to get close to and track another American military reconnaissance satellite.

While no details about this payload are known, there is a suspicion that this payload might have been launched to match the trajectory and flight path of an American satellite, USA-326. This was launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 last February on the NROL-87 mission and went into a 512 km altitude, 97.4° inclination orbit. It is speculated to be an experimental optical reconnaissance satellite.

The launch comes after a new object was tracked just a week ago from the USA 326 spy satellite. It was designated object 53315 and cataloged in a 348 x 388 km orbit.

…The USA-326 satellite phased over the launch site just as the Soyuz-2.1v rocket launched. This also matches the northerly direction NOTAM that was announced before the Soyuz launch. What is possible is that the Kosmos-2558 payload is an inspector satellite that will be used to monitor the appearance and behavior of USA-326 and/or object 53315.

The Soyuz-2 rocket itself was a rarely used variation of this rocket, using no side boosters.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

33 SpaceX
26 China
10 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab tried three times yesterday to also launch, but high winds eventually forced it to scrub the launch, rescheduling for tomorrow.

American private enterprise still leads China 46 to 26 in the national rankings, and the entire globe combined 46 to 43.


Sunspot update: Activity recovers mostly from last month’s decline

It is the start of the month, and thus time to post NOAA’s monthly update of its graph tracking the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere. That graph is below, with some additional details added by me to provide a larger context.

After the first real decline in sunspot activity in June, the Sun recovered that decline almost completely in July. Though the ramp up to solar maximum has stalled somewhat in the last two months, the trend continues to point to a very active maximum, much higher than predicted as well as much stronger than the last very weak maximum in 2020.

» Read more


Ice in the Martian equatorial region?

Global overview of ice on Mars

Glacial features in low latitude Martian crater

Today’s cool image to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, is actually an older captioned image, published in 2017 by the science team for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). I missed its significance when it was first released. From the caption by Alfred McEwen of the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory in Arizona:

The material on the floor of this crater appears to have flowed like ice, and contains pits that might result from sublimation of subsurface ice. The surface is entirely dust-covered today. There probably was ice here sometime in the past, but could it persist at some depth?

This crater is at latitude 26 degrees north, and near-surface ice at this latitude (rather than further toward one of the poles) could be a valuable resource for future human exploration.

As shown in the global map of Mars above, this 26-mile-wide unnamed crater, marked by the black cross, is well inside the equatorial region 30 degrees north and south from the equator where almost no evidence of near surface ice has been found. Whenever I look at an image from MRO, if the picture appears to show ice or glacial features, its latitude is always 30 degrees or higher. If it does not, it is almost always in this equatorial region.

This crater however shows evidence of glacial features in its interior, but is far closer to the equator than normal. How could this be? It is possible that its high altitude, sitting in the southern cratered highlands, might have helped preserve its buried but near surface glacial features.

Regardless, as McEwen notes, its location closer to the equator is tantalizing, because it suggests that such ice could exist even in the equatorial regions, though buried and thus not detected by the instruments presently available in Mars orbit.


Another blacklisted American sues school board for banning and censoring him

The parents, teachers, and elected officials in Maine
The parents, teachers, and elected officials in Maine, when
challenged about the inclusion of the queer agenda in schools

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Shawn McBreairty, a Maine parent who has been sued by one school district and banned from the property of another because he has publicly criticized their inclusion of the queer agenda in their schools, has filed a lawsuit against the second board for violating his first amendment rights.

Essentially, McBreairty at several different board meetings of Regional School Unit #22 tried during his open comment time to read the text of several pornography books that the school board had approved for children to read in schools, and was silenced by the board, specifically by the board’s chairman, Heath Miller, who claimed their policy forbid the use of obscenity by commenters. When McBreairty would not be silenced, the board then banned him from all school property — including any virtual online meetings — thus blocking his first amendment right to petition his elected officials. From the lawsuit [pdf]:
» Read more


China’s Tiangong-3 space station, as seen from the ground

Tiangong-3 in orbit on July 29, 2022

The screen capture to the right was taken by a very short ground-based telescopic movie of China’s Tiangong-3 space station on July 29, 2022. I have labeled it to indicate the various parts of the station, including the new large module, Wentian, that launched to the station on July 24, 2022.

In my original post, I had mislabeled the sections. I have now corrected the image. Thanks to reader Jay for pointing out my error.

Tianhe is the original core module of the station. At present Wentian is in the forward port, so that it and Tianhe lie in a straight line. At some point shortly before the October launch of the next module, Mengtian, they will likely move it 90 degrees to its permanent port to one side, so that Mengtian can dock with the front port where Wentian now sits.

Mengtian will then be shifted 90 degrees to its permanent port on the opposite side of Wentian. At that point the station will form its planned final T-shape configuration.

This dance of spacecraft is necessary to keep the station as balanced as possible to aid in attitude control.


Long March 5B stage falls to Earth near Malaysia

New data now suggests that the core stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket that it launched on July 24th has crashed to Earth somewhere off the coast of the island of Borneo, Malaysia.

As of writing, there is no indication that any debris hit land, though this could change.

In violation of the Outer Space Treaty, China very clearly has done nothing to upgrade the Long March 5B since it dumped a core stage uncontrolled last year. It very clearly can do nothing to prevent this from happening in October, when the Long March 5B lifts off again to carry into orbit the last planned module for the Tiangong station.

In other words, China cannot be relied upon to honor any treaty it signs. It signs the treaty, but then willfully ignores it if it thinks that is to its best interest.


Space junk thought to be service module of Dragon manned capsule found in Australia

In news that is related to the impending crash of the Long March 5B core stage, Australian farmers have found scattered space junk pieces that some are claiming are the remains of the service module or trunk section that re-entered on May 5th, the day of the splashdown of SpaceX’s Endurance manned spacecraft.

The debris is most likely the unpressurized “trunk” of the spacecraft, astrophysicist Brad Tucker told “Having gone out there and looked at the bits myself, there is not a doubt in my mind it is space junk,” he said in an e-mail. The trunk is designed to send unpressurized cargo into space, and also to support the Crew Dragon during its launch, according to SpaceX (opens in new tab). Half of the trunk includes solar panels that power Dragon when the vessel is in flight or docked to the station. The trunk detaches from the spacecraft shortly before re-entry.

The sonic boom, Tucker said, was widely heard at 7:05 a.m. local time on July 9 and the pieces found near Dalgety were “very close to the tracked path of the SpaceX-1 Crew trunk.”

The problem with this claim is that the sonic boom on July 9th matches no SpaceX launch or re-entry. The material however could be from that Endurance capsule, which returned May 5th, if the trunk once detached did not re-enter until two months later.

If confirmed, this story is surprising, as that service module is thought to be too small to survive re-entry through the atmosphere. It is instead expected to burn up before reaching the ground.


Long March 5B stage reentry window narrowed to two hours

Long March 5B impact prediction

The Aerospace Corporation has now narrowed the window in which the out-of-control core stage of China’s Long March 5B rocket will crash back to Earth to about two hours, centered over the Pacific west of the United States at in the early morning of July 31st.

China appears to have dodged a bullet once again. The window is now only a little more than one orbit long, so we now know the impact point for the five to nine tons that will survive re-entry is mostly over water.


Inverted Martian tadpole

Inverted Martian tadpole
Click for full image.

Cool image time! On Mars it is not unusual to see what scientists call tadpole features, craters with meandering canyons or channels either flowing into or out from the crater’s rim. The photo to the right, rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here, is another example, though with one major difference. The channel and crater are inverted, with the channel instead a ridge and the crater a circular plateau. The picture itself was taken on April 16, 2022 by the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Orbital images have found on Mars a lot of what scientists call pedestal craters, where the impact packed and hardened the ground under the crater so that when the surrounding terrain eroded away the crater remained, as a plateau.

Scientists have also found on Mars a lot of what they call “inverted channels,” places where the channels of a drainage pattern followed the same geological process, becoming more resistant to erosion so that over time it turned from a channel to a ridge.

Here we have a combination of both. The overview map below provides us the larger picture.
» Read more


Study: The Moon’s poles might not be the only places to find lunar water

Global map of hydrogen abundances on Moon
Click for full image.

According to a new study published in June in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, while the lunar poles might contain water ice in permanently shadowed craters — based on detected hydrogen abundances — there is an even higher concentration of hydrogen found in the Aristarchus Plateau region in the lower mid-latitudes.

The map to the right is figure 9 from the paper, annotated to post here, showing the Moon’s hydrogen abundances globally, with lighter areas having higher concentrations. The boxes indicate five lunar regions that appear to hold higher levels of hydrogen and thus might contain higher amounts of water. From the paper’s conclusions:

The bulk hydrogen map also led to the first identification of bulk hydrogen enhancements within a pyroclastic deposit (Aristarchus Plateau), an identification that corroborates previous suggestions that hydrogen was among the volatiles involved in the eruption and emplacement of pyroclastic deposits. Further, with the understanding that there are enhanced bulk hydrogen abundances within at least one pyroclastic deposit and not just a surface enhancement, this leads to the implication that the hydrogen contained within just the Aristarchus Plateau may represent a significant fraction of the hydrogen that exists in the Moon’s near-subsurface, including that at both lunar poles. [emphasis mine]

It is important to note that finding high hydrogen abundances does not automatically mean you have found water. For hydrogen to exist on the Moon the atom must be bound in a molecule, and usually water is chosen as the most likely candidate. In the case of Aristarchus, however, the paper instead suggests that hydrogen was placed there as pyroclastic deposits, when active volcanism was occurring a long time ago. While water ice might not be present now in these regions, the data also suggests that water played a major role in its formation.

These hydrogen abundances however also signal the faint possibility of that water ice might be buried here, below the surface, left over from those early volcanic processes. The data also suggests even if the hydrogen is bound in other materials, mining and processing might be able to extract water from it.


Pushback: Teacher wins victory against Rhode Island school district that tried to blacklist her

segregation returns to schools!
Providence’s policy of segregating teachers by race.

In October 2021 Romana Bessinger, a teacher for 22 years at a school in Providence, Rhode Island, suddenly discovered she had been suspended without pay and transferred to a no-work desk job because she had publicly criticized the school district’s effort to segregate teachers by race (see graphic to the right) while also making the the history curriculum an anti-white, anti-American diatribe.

Bessinger has now won back her teaching job. Just days before the school district was going to have to defend its position at her grievance hearing, it backed down completely.

I have received notification that coming this fall, I will have a permanent classroom assignment at Classical High. I have been freed from the basement. I’ll be back in the classroom this September sharing literature about the Holocaust, American authors with universal messages to share, historical references and literature that reflects the greatness of America in all her flaws and perfection. I’ll teach universal themes that all children can relate to, my classroom will have characters and poetry free of harmful political activism and full of accuracy. I hope to instill critical thinking, freedom of thought, rigorous activities that promote lively discussion unprompted by curriculum materials filled with propaganda.

Bessinger considers this a victory but I am not so sure. She might be back in the classroom free to teach history properly, but it does not appear the school district’s segregation policy nor its official curriculum promoting hate and bigotry have changed. As Bessinger noted in July 2021:
» Read more


Update on status of first orbital Starship/Superheavy

Link here. The main focus of the article is the state of Superheavy prototype #7, which experienced an explosion and some damage during testing earlier this month.

The day after the anomaly, Elon indicated on Twitter that Booster 7 would roll back to the production site to work on repairs to the vehicle and assess the next steps. Rollback occurred on July 14, and in the following days, it’s been observed that several Raptor engines have been taken off from the vehicle, likely for further inspection and testing at SpaceX’s McGregor test facility a few hours drive up north from Starbase.

As of writing, repairs are continuing on Booster 7, and it will likely still be undergoing repairs for the next week or two. So while an early retirement for the vehicle could be expected, the current target by teams is still an orbital flight by Booster 7 and Ship 24 with a notional target date of late August for the flight.

If SpaceX decides to retire #7, it already is prepping #8 and #9, with #8 likely to be put on the launchpad for testing in the next week.

The target date for that first orbital launch is still in August, but that schedule appears increasingly unlikely.


Space Foundation: Global space economy grew by 9% compared to last year

Capitalism in space: According to its annual report, the Space Foundation has determined that the global space economy grew by 9% in 2021, totaling almost half a trillion dollars total.

Most of the money generated by the space industry came in the commercial sector, which saw a 6.4% boost in revenues, with more than $224 billion coming from products and services delivered by space firms and nearly $138 billion spent on infrastructure and support for commercial space enterprises.

The report also found a 19% increase in government spending on both military and civilian space projects, with India, China, and the U.S. leading the way.

Because of the shift to a competitive and independent space industry in the U.S. the government is also now getting a lot more bang for buck. The increased funding is not simply funding pork on the ground, it is actually producing results in space, and doing so more efficiently.


Long March 2D launches two military satellites for China

China today successfully launched two military reconnaissance satellites, using its Long March 2D rocket.

The launch was from an interior spaceport, which means the rocket’s lower stages, which use very toxic hypergolic fuels, crashed to Earth inside China.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

33 SpaceX
26 China
9 Russia
5 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads China 46 to 26 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 46 to 42.

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