Kepler Data Dump - And NASA Ignores it (Update)

Keith's 6:08 pm EDT note: Surprise surprise, NASA just issued this press release at 6:08 pm EDT "NASA Releases Kepler Data On Potential Extrasolar Planets" even though the papers have been accessible for almost 24 hours, and their release was announced 11 days ago. Yet another example of Ed Weiler and SMD's lack of interest in being "open" and "transparent".

Also, it would seem that Jon Morse, the head of the Astrophysics Division at NASA HQ SMD is ordering his staff and scientists associated with this (and other) projects not to talk about any possible extrasolar planet candidates with the media or anyone else until papers have been peer reviewed. That's fine Jon, but then why do you allow the release the papers for public examination - online - if you are so concerned about unreviewed data getting out into the wild? It just doesn't make any sense. You can't have it both ways, Jon.

There is another location where the papers that Jon Morse would rather that you not see are located. All you have to do is go to the The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System and do a simple search for "Kepler" and these papers also show up here.

- Kepler Eclipsing Binary Stars. I. Catalog and Principal Characterization of 1832 Eclipsing Binaries in the First Data Release, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
- Characteristics of Kepler Planetary Candidates Based on the First Data Set: The Majority are Found to be Neptune-Size and Smaller, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
- Five Kepler target stars that show multiple transiting exoplanet candidates, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

Keith's 5:30 pm EDT note: As best I understand the situation, Ed Weiler and SMD management have consistently refused to allow any NASA publicity surrounding the submission of these Kepler papers - even though anyone can read them via the links below. It is not so much PAO's fault (although there are a few PAO people who should have seen this coming) but rather SMD's clinging to outmoded ways of releasing information.

Then again the Kepler folks posted this update on 4 June that announced this data release. 11 days and they can't agree on a press release?

How SMD can expect people to ignore papers that announce preliminary findings about a large number of newly-identified planets circling other stars simply baffles me. If SMD does not want people to read their papers before they are reviewed, etc. then they should not be posting them on a publicly accessible abstract website for all the world to see.

Keith's 3:00 pm EDT note: Curiously there is no mention whatsoever of this data release at NASA ARC's homepage or on NASA.gov's Kepler mission home page. Its not as if they did not have advanced notice that this data was being released. These papers were posted on astro-ph last night around midnight. Maybe PAO doesn't know that they are online.

- Five Kepler target stars that show multiple transiting exoplanet candidates, astro-ph
- Characteristics of Kepler Planetary Candidates Based on the First Data Set: The Majority are Found to be Neptune-Size and Smaller, astro-ph
- Kepler Eclipsing Binary Stars. I. Catalog and Principal Characterization of 1832 Eclipsing Binaries in the First Data Release, astro-ph

Kepler Withholds Data While NASA Struggles To Be Relevant, related post

In the Hunt for Planets, Who Owns the Data?, NY Times

"On Tuesday, astronomers operating NASA's Kepler spacecraft will release a list of about 350 stars newly suspected of harboring planets, including five systems with multiple candidate planets. That data could dramatically swell the inventory of alien worlds, which now stands at 461, none of them habitable by the likes of us. ... But a lot of attention has been paid in astronomical circles over the past few months to what the Kepler team will not be saying. By agreement with NASA, the team is holding back data on its 400 brightest and best planet candidates, which the astronomers intend to observe themselves over abusy summer. ... The result has been a shift in the balance between the duty of a scientist to wring every last drop of truth and credibility out of the data he or she might have spent years gathering and the rights of the rest of us to know what our tax dollars have discovered."

In the Hunt for Planets, Who Owns the Data?, NY Times

"On Tuesday, astronomers operating NASA's Kepler spacecraft will release a list of about 350 stars newly suspected of harboring planets, including five systems with multiple candidate planets. That data could dramatically swell the inventory of alien worlds, which now stands at 461, none of them habitable by the likes of us. ... But a lot of attention has been paid in astronomical circles over the past few months to what the Kepler team will not be saying. By agreement with NASA, the team is holding back data on its 400 brightest and best planet candidates, which the astronomers intend to observe themselves over abusy summer. ... The result has been a shift in the balance between the duty of a scientist to wring every last drop of truth and credibility out of the data he or she might have spent years gathering and the rights of the rest of us to know what our tax dollars have discovered."

Telescope team may be allowed to sit on exoplanet data, Nature

"As Kepler astronomers get ever closer to the prize -- an Earth-sized planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a parent star -- some astronomers are advocating open sharing of data, with its benefit of bringing additional eyes and ideas to bear on ballooning data sets that swamp the resources of any individual team. Others, however, want to maintain more control over the candidate planets, which can remain in limbo for years while awaiting confirmation. This closed approach ensures not only ultimate bragging rights in the scientific literature, but also enables more cautious media announcements in a field that has suffered embarrassing retractions."

Exoplanet Hunter's First Data Withholds the Good Stuff, Wired

"The planet-hunting space telescope, Kepler, released its first big batch of data today.
That should be exciting, but the team held back the good stuff until February 2011, wanting to analyze and follow up on the early observations themselves. Kepler is trying to find Earth-like planets that exist at just the right distance from their home stars to retain water in liquid form."

NASA: Neptune-sized planets orbiting other stars, USA Today

"The remaining 400 possible planetary candidate targets will be released in February, after mission scientists examine them for study publication."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 15, 2010 6:08 PM.

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