[extropy-chat] Re: SPACE: where are we?

Alan Eliasen eliasen at mindspring.com
Mon Feb 16 21:21:59 UTC 2004

Brent Neal wrote:
>  (2/14/04 18:20) Chris Hibbert <hibbert at mydruthers.com> wrote:
>>NASA is apparently doling the information out slowly so their 
>>scientists have a chance to look at the most important data first.  If 
>>there are papers to be written based on the raw photos, the NASA 
>>scientists don't want to give them away without at least having someone 
>>peruse them first.
> And not only "their" scientists. We've been contacted about doing
> some processing work on the Mars photographs.

   Actually, almost all of the photos are released to the public almost
immediately.  Everyone, including me, can do their own work with them.  As far
as I know, the only difference between what the public gets and the purest
"raw" photos are mostly just contrast-stretching.  And they're almost always
published same-day.  Sure, it's hard to do pure science on uncalibrated or
contrast-stretched images, but as James Bell, the Pancam Payload Element Lead
for the mission states, it'll be several months before anybody properly does
the calibration work on all of the photos.

   Otherwise, I think NASA has done a great job of getting the photos out the
same day they're taken.

   Read the last comment on the site:

   He says,

   "Ultimately you are right that people will need the calibrated data to do
the color balancing correctly.  We are working on doing that and will
eventually get all those images out to the public using the NASA/JPL
"Planetary Image Atlas" web site.  It will take several months or more to get
the work done, however.  In the meantime, we thought it would be best to get
*something* out there, and so that's why we opted to get the raw data out
fast, even though it's still raw.  The team has taken some criticism for this
within the planetary science community because not many past missions have
adopted such an open-data policy."

   The last quote from Dr. Bell's latest email is in my opinion the best. On
the topic of the team taking some criticism for giving the public access to
such raw images:

    "Let them whine, I say. People want and deserve to see the pictures as
soon as we do."

  Alan Eliasen                 | "You cannot reason a person out of a
  eliasen at mindspring.com       |  position he did not reason himself
  http://futureboy.homeip.net/ |  into in the first place."
                               |     --Jonathan Swift

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