NASA SMD Deliberately Misleads The Public on STEREO

Keith's 6 Feb 11:00 am EST update: Have a look at the "complete" STEREO image of the sun. See that black stripe with no data - an the large blurry region? How can this image mesh with NASA's media advisory touting a "complete" image to be released today? NASA even admits it is not "complete" even though they say it is the "entire" sun:

"Latest image of the far side of the Sun based on high resolution STEREO data, taken on February 6, 2011 at 23:56 UT when there was still a small gap between the STEREO Ahead and Behind data. This gap will start to close on February 6, 2011, when the spacecraft achieve 180 degree separation, and will completely close over the next several days. Credit: NASA"

Why not wait until the image is complete in a week or so and then release it? Again, only Ed Weiler knows. Everyone else in his organization is scratching their head. According to the STEREO Facebook page "NASA will be holding a press conference concerning this event on February 9 at 2:00 PM US Eastern Standard Time." Ed won't be there though.

Earlier posts below

NASA Releasing First Views Of The Entire Sun On Super Sun-Day

"NASA will score big on super SUN-day at 11 a.m. EST, Sunday, Feb. 6, with the release online of the first complete view of the sun's entire surface and atmosphere. Seeing the whole sun front and back simultaneously will enable significant advances in space weather forecasting for Earth, and improve planning for future robotic or crewed spacecraft missions throughout the solar system."

Keith's 4 Feb note: I do not understand why NASA PAO is telling people about this now - and then waiting until the weekend when most people are at church, taking time off, or in the case of Feb 6 watching football i.e. THE SUPERBOWL etc. to let them see it?

-- "Hey let's go to the computer in the den and look at NASA.gov to see that sun picture!"

-- "Nah, just go outside and look up in the sky during a commercial break, you won't miss the pregame - and that Robonaut dude. Grab me a beer while you're up".

Wouldn't it make more sense to put this out when people are looking at the web? Seems like a deliberate way to decrease visibility - not heighten it. What do I know .... maybe Robonaut can tell people the URL during its pre-game appearance on Fox - THAT would be a neat idea.

Keith's 5 Feb 1:12 pm EST update: As it happens, this dumb Super Bowl idea was not generated within PAO. Rather it was the product of Ed Weiler and the other PR geniuses in SMD (the same guys who spin MSL and Webb cost overruns). As it happens, although Weiler's team will claim that this is the "first complete view of the sun's entire surface and atmosphere", it is not since the final data to actually create that image won't be received back on Earth for almost a week after their Super Bowl announcement. So when you see these words they will not true until at least not until 12 February - at the earliest. More openness and transparency from Ed Weiler.

Keith's 5 Feb 5:23 pm EST update: According to the official response I got back from NASA SMD:

"The spacecraft will be in opposition (180 degrees of heliolongitude apart) late on Sunday the 6th EST (early Monday the 7th UT). That would only produce full coverage of the far side of the Sun if the spacecraft were an infinite distance from the Sun, however. Our calculation is that full coverage of the far side will be achievable sometime on the 12th. The full-resolution data from STEREO are only downlinked three days after they are obtained, so we should be able to see a full-coverage projection on the 15th, or at worst the 16th if there's some issue with downlink or ground processing. The revolving spherical projection on the STEREO homepage is assembled from the "space weather beacon mode" images, much degraded in resolution and lossiness of compression, that we receive within ~ 5 minutes plus light travel time of imaging. The "missing" area may disappear earlier in that because of the currency of the data."

So I guess this begs the question: why is NASA SMD issuing an announcement on 6 February - on a day when no one is going to be paying attention to NASA space science topics - of the "first complete view of the sun's entire surface and atmosphere" when in fact, by their own admission, the "complete" image will not be ready until a week or more later? Just what is it they are going to release to the public and call "complete"? This sounds somewhat dishonest and deliberately misleading to me.

Care to explain, Ed Weiler?

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 6, 2011 11:13 AM.

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