Another NASA Discovery That NASA Isn't Telling You About

Keith's note: Early this morning the @NewHorizons twitter posted "RT @AlanStern: Just announced: Pluto has new company-- We've discovered a 5th moon using the Hubble Space Telescope!". Why did the New Horizons PI get totally out ahead of everyone - his own team, NASA, STScI, even the IAU?

A NASA spacecraft, operated using NASA funds, was used to observe the target for another NASA mission, and discovered a new moon billions of miles away. Yet when I asked for the official press release early this morning, NASA PAO was unaware of this discovery. No press release has yet to be issued by NASA, STScI, JHU, or SwRI (I sent a request to all of them hours ago). Apparently NASA-funded discoveries can now be announced by anyone - in any fashion they so desire - without giving NASA a heads-up. Yet another example as to how NASA SMD PAO is in need of a tune up.

Keith's 12:00 pm update: Scientists at SwRI even gave one publication advance notice of the discovery even though SwRI refuses to respond to a media request for a press release sent hours ago. Meanwhile, STScI posted a release at 11:30 am but have not even bothered to send it out to the media - posting at only occurred a short while ago - again with no media notice.

According to an email from J.D. Harrington at NASA PAO: "The Institute posted a news release, Goddard posted a web feature, and HQ put it on the NASA home page promptly at 11:30 a.m. after confirming the IAU circular announcing the finding was published. We didn't want to get out in front of them. It's also been heavily promoted on our social media forums..." The initial Tweet was posted at 3:39 am - but not by NASA. NASA waited 6 hours. Isn't this just a just a little odd - that NASA has to go use an IAU circular to confirm things discovered with its own spacecraft? Who informed the IAU? Aren't the people who make these discoveries using NASA hardware required to inform the agency of things like this? Guess not.

And of course if you try to actually read the IAU circular (IAUC 9253) about this discovery made using NASA funds - you can't - at least not without a user name or password.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 11, 2012 12:30 PM.

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