Astronomy: June 2010 Archives

Exoplanets: Show me the data!, Nature

"And according to NASA Watch, the NASA astrophysics division is prohibiting discussion of the new 306 candidate planets until they are confirmed, even though they are now out in the public; the NASA press release associated with the data dump makes no mention of the 306 new candidates."

Kepler Craft Reports Apparent Planetary Bonanza, Science News

"The newly reported findings don't include details about the most interesting 400 of the 706 candidate planets, which orbit the brightest stars Kepler has surveyed. These cases may offer the most promise for finding planets with masses close to Earth's own. Information on these 400 planets won't be made public until next February."

Kepler space telescope finds possible planets, SF Chronicle

"It was only 15 years ago that Swiss astronomers discovered the first "exoplanet" orbiting another star beyond our solar system. Yet in only the first 43 days of its mission, Kepler discovered the 706 strange objects that astronomers are listing as candidates for planetary status."

Kepler Exoplanet Controversy Erupts, Discovery News

"Proprietary periods are nothing new, and provide a balance the helps observers out while preserving the openness of science in the long run. The complaints from the community stem from an extension of the proprietary period for the Kepler team that was granted in April. All of the data were set to be released this month, but the extension is until February 2011."

Keith's note: According to Nature "There are 306 planet candidates in the dataset, many of them Neptune sized, though as many as 50% could turn out to be false positives.". So ... why is NASA willing to release one set of data with such a potential high false positive rate - but not release the rest of the data - the data that seems to be the most provocative in its implications? If Ed Weiler and Jon Morse are really that worried about people running off with data that may not be flawless and jumping to erroneous conclusions, then why release anything in the first place? Anyone on Earth with an Internet connection can look at what was released and the papers submitted for review. This makes no sense.

NASA is struggling to be seen as being more relevant to people - in their daily lives and the future their children will inherit. As such, dangling this tantalizing stuff just out of reach for incompletely explained and outmoded reasons does little to help the agency appear to be relevant - and worth the investment.

Oh yes, a movie about life on an extrasolar planet - discovered by a search project such as Kepler - has grossed over $2.7 billion so far ($750 million in the U.S. alone) ... does anyone at NASA pay attention to things like this?

Kepler Data Dump - And NASA Ignores it (Update), Earlier post



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This page is an archive of entries in the Astronomy category from June 2010.

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