Access to Rosetta data

After yesterday's unscheduled release of images of 67P/C-G, our next release will be tomorrow at 15:00 CEST as planned, containing new images and a movie, coordinated with all partners involved in the Rosetta mission. In the meantime, in response to a number of requests made to us and our partners about the general availability of images from Rosetta, Fred Jansen (Rosetta mission manager), Matt Taylor (Rosetta project scientist), and Mark McCaughrean (Senior Scientific Advisor) have prepared this post to explain the way this works.

As Rosetta gets closer to its destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, it's exciting to see the comet grow larger, revealing ever more details of this previously unseen icy world.

From the reaction we're seeing on the web and in media, many people are enjoying this amazing journey along with us.

Indeed, some of you are keen to see much more, asking for access to as many images as possible on a near-continuous basis, citing NASA's Mars rovers and the Cassini-Huygens mission, where images are available soon after they've reached the Earth. Similarly, images from the NASA-ESA SOHO and ESA's PROBA-2 solar missions are also available to the public immediately.

However, it is important to know that such an "open data" policy is not the norm for most ESA and NASA missions. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray observatory, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, or for that matter, some NASA Mars orbiters, are all subject to a so-called "proprietary period", as are the data from ESA's Mars Express, XMM-Newton, and Rosetta, for example.

This period, typically 6-12 months, gives exclusive access to the data to the scientists who built the instruments or to scientists who made a winning proposal to make certain observations. In ESA's case, the length of the period is decided by our Member States when a mission is selected, although in some cases, the period is made shorter when a mission has been in operation for some time.

The aim of a proprietary period is to ensure that the academic teams who spent decades developing and running the sophisticated scientific instruments on-board the spacecraft are able to calibrate and verify the data, as well as reap the rewards of their efforts: their scientific careers depend on it. Otherwise, it would be very hard to engage people in this long and difficult process. Similarly, it's reasonable that those who won observing time, typically against stiff competition with over-subscription factors of three to ten, have the first chance to exploit the data.

That said, the proprietary period is finite and usually rather short, to ensure that the instrument teams and winning proposers don't sit on the data: at the end of the period, the norm in space science is that all of the data become freely available to all scientists and the general public, world-wide. For example, all of the data from ESA's Herschel mission are now open to all via our archives, as are many of the data from Mars Express and our other missions.

With Rosetta, all data from its 21 instruments (11 on the orbiter, 10 on the Philae lander) are subject to a 6 month proprietary period. Thus any release of images and scientific results that we are making now, as we approach rendezvous with 67P/C-G on 6 August, is being done with direct involvement of the instrument science teams, who are agreeing to waive the proprietary period for those items.

Because no-one has ever been to 67P/C-G before, each new piece of data from Rosetta has the potential for a scientific discovery. It's only fair that the instrument science teams have the first chance to make and assess those discoveries. At the same time, it's exactly because 67P/C-G is unknown territory and because there is an exciting journey underway that some are clamouring to see everything as soon as possible, in near "real-time". We understand that, but a balance must be struck, which is why only some of the data are being released now.

Finally, many people know that in addition to the main scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, developed and run by a consortium of institutes under the leadership of the Max-Planck-Institut for Solar System Research in Göttingen, there are a pair of navigation cameras (NAVCAMs) on-board under ESA's responsibility. "Why don't we release those NAVCAM images freely?", we're asked.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the reason we're not doing so is to avoid undermining the priority of the OSIRIS team, as there is some scientific overlap between the two camera systems. Some NAVCAM data are however being put out in coordination with the regular OSIRIS releases.

We know that this won't satisfy all demands for full, open access, with people making the argument that "the public funded all of this". That's true, of course, but it has to be remembered that the national agencies responsible for funding Rosetta and its instruments approved the proprietary period for the data returned from the mission, and we are operating according to those rules.

At the same time, everyone at ESA and on the science teams is keen to let the public know what's going on, to share in this adventure. In particular, we have made extensive social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels to communicate with as wide an audience as possible and to keep everyone up-to-date, including a variety of competitions to engage people directly.

Beyond that, when it comes to the big "events" like the comet rendezvous on 6 August, the landing in November, and the perihelion passage in August next year, we aim to put out the very best images taken right on those days as quickly as possible, much as we did for Rosetta's fly-bys of asteroids Steins and Lutetia. And plenty of other results will be made available along the way.

Posted on behalf of Fred Jansen (Rosetta mission manager), Matt Taylor (Rosetta project scientist), and Mark McCaughrean (Senior Scientific Advisor)



  • Robert Murphree says:

    the official rosetta investigators spent maybe more than one decade of their professional lives preparing for the mission. no publication priority, no investigators.

    • Ruben says:

      ¿cómo es posible que alguien crea que sólo viendo las imágenes, sin dato alguno sobra calibraciones, albedos, tiempos d exposición....etc se pueda obtener información suficiente para hacer un paper? ¿de que clase de ciencia mediocre estaríamos hablando?.
      el mostrar al público en general las características de un cometa sólo puede ser beneficioso, aumentar el interés por la ciencia es algo fundamental, y esta misión cumple ese objetivo más que de sobra si no hay alguna mente cerrada que lo impida. Les recuerdo que la ESA es un agencia PÚBLICA de la comunidad europea, no estamos hablando de publicar los datos científicos (me parece legítimo que, como viene ocurriendo, se envíen encriptados y sean "confidenciales" hasta que se hayan estudiado y publicado).

      Un nuevo error a añadir a la política de comunicación de la ESA.

    • Peter says:

      No public involvement, no public support, no money, no mission.

      Time for frustrated citizens to re-evaluate their support of ESA

    • CParker says:

      esa in general, and every .. repeat EVERY .. science organisation involved is being paid by the public.

      so actually we, as the paying end of this, demand full access regardless how priorities have been debated over all these years.
      we, as we are those people paying for it, do not care about internal affairs who releases what end when.

      we want to see the raw output ... period

  • The arguments explained here may make some sense for the orbital and intense hi-res mapping phase later this summer (though I have yet to hear about a single case where freely released uncalibrated raw close-up images from a NASA interplanetary mission have been used to 'steal' science from the instrument team).

    But the current way is just not logical for the ongoing approach phase: who is writing scientific papers already about the distant nucleus that is just turning into a shape? And on the weekly schedule a sampling of these images is coming out anyway, with a few days delay: if you'd want to make your own comet shape model etc. you could anyway..

    Presenting the approach images, say, one per day and with only hours delay would thus not endanger any priorites but instead give the eager public a unique chance to 'join the ride', just as they can with Cassini or the Mars rovers. This is 21st century space science outreach. The aftermath of yesterday's "leak" amply demonstrated how thankful the public is.

    And, guess what, such an open, inclusive style has been around before , way before the WWW - let alone social media - appeared: ESA itself dared to show the approach to Halley's nucleus from Giotto's camera in real time in 1986 (albeit in an awful color representation for which, as I understand, German TV and not the HMC team was to blame).

    And the same was true throughout the 1980s during the various Voyager encounters with the giant planets and their moons when unexplored worlds were viewed by the science team and the public at large (via NASA TV that streamed a live feed from the spacecrafts' cameras for days on end) simultaneously for the first time.

    I'll never forget that night 25 years ago when we gathered, together with the key Voyager imaging people, around the TV screens at JPL on which the raw close-ups of Neptune's moon Triton came in - and the scientists were just as baffled as the bystanders. This was cutting-edge space science as an experience, shared with the world.

    It just cannot be right - especially given all the means of instant communication existing today - that we are moving back into the occasional-picture-handout style of space communications of the 1960s where everything is vetted and choreographed and feels remote. This is our mission, too: let us be part of it. Please reconsider!

    • armchair explorer says:

      Very good arguments by Daniel Fischer! I fully support this message.

    • Hauhecke75 says:

      Daniel Fischer's arguments count! Here's a chance to invoke the public for the matter and also emotional as well as fascinate especially young people for science and exploration. Don't waste this chance and keep the fire of interest burning.

  • Paolo says:

    "live" images at the JPL sites for Cassini, Curiosity or Opportunity are "lossy" jpegs, on which no one would seriously think of doing science! this way the scientists retain their proprietary access and the public is happy. I can't see why this can't be done for Rosetta

  • armchair explorer says:

    By the way, what data policy can we expect for the ExoMars 2018 expedition?

  • Fred - as you know we have a proprietary period on Chandra too but I think for planetary encounters it's a bit of a different situation. I think it would be a reasonable approach to release in real time jpg images with no metadata - which you can't do publication quailty science on - and keep the science grade data proprietary. (Actually I personally feel we should do this with Chandra and other missions too).

    • Boxx says:

      I fully agree with that : near-realtime JPG (with a strong ESA logo, please!) is mandatory, of course without metadata. It will not endanger the scientific teams. But if ESA does not publish in a modern way on a daily basis then ESA will be endangering the European leadership on this mission... please don't!

      Ok, this is your policy, thus it is up to *you* at ESA to produce a high quality daily coverage, because NASA does it very very well already and ESA is always very very far away behind NASA in terms of promoting its science. Thanks in advance.

  • Andrew says:

    570 words! The message: scientist paid for by the public are unwilling to show the public what they paid for!

  • Uwe Lemmer says:

    Congrats ESO! You have just buried your public outreach. I understand that your business is science and the public doesn't need to know where the taxpayers' money is left, right?
    Not in my wildest dreams of a PR nightmare would I have expected such an absurd reasoning by a distinguished space agency in the 21st century.

  • Graham Dodds says:

    I think we all understand the need for scientific careers to be respected - no argument there. However, a major result of any mission is also the "PR" for the interested public, to keep their interest and support for future space science. Therefore I think it's dangerous to be "precious" or "exclusive" with images which can be "smudged" to reduce the detailed scientific features, while retaining enough information for public consumption. I hope you can find a way through this field of boulders.
    BR, Graham Dodds

  • Birgit hofmann says:

    Zugang zu den wissenschaftlichen Daten kann man verstehen , aber deshalb kann man doch medienwirksam schneller und mehr Bilder veroeffendlichen, wo ist das Problem ?
    Ein " bisschen mehr NASA " wäre angebracht, im heutigen Zeitalter des Internets.....

  • Matthias Versen says:

    The most interesting images have to be released for the public without delay.
    The public doesn't want to see old images six month after they get recorded .
    How many people would watch football matches from the worldcup if the FIFA decides to release only the match result immediately and the actual match pictures 1 month later ?

    That "open data" is not the norm is something that you should chance immediately. There should be only a few exceptions from this .

  • E. Vandenburg says:

    Great. After that rant about ESA's intellectual property by Jansen, Taylor and McCaughrean, I just lost interest in the Rosetta project. I'll check back again in a few years when the copyright expires or whatever. 40 pixels isn't enough after a 10 year wait. What a waste of public money.

  • Rocket Nut says:

    I love your BS.
    What are you so scare about us seeing the new pics as the come in?
    As far as I'm concern you have all ready the landed the lander, possibly months or even a year ago.
    I have lost interest in this mission because I think you feeding nothing but BS.

  • Anthony says:

    Even though I am not actively working on this amazing mission, I feel just as part of it as the ones who control the commands. I am human and I am the same species with the same questions as the ones who set these missions in motion long ago. I am so excited to hear and be part of what is discovered!

  • Per Christensen says:

    Unfortunately a very un-informative site. The sitevisitors are deeply interested in the outcome of this unique mission and are given indifferences like "win with rosetta" and a picture every fortnight. Though the first moon walk was a child of the cold war, the level of information was more (and) up to date We do not hope, that the comet landing will be documented on this site, months after it happened. Best regards and congrats. with a unique mission.

  • Boutillon says:

    I would like to quote "Science et Vie" on line (in French) :
    " Passons d’abord très vite sur la malheureuse et très malhabile communication de l’Agence spatiale européenne (ESA) à propos de sa mission Rosetta… Depuis quelques jours, [...] l’ESA, quant à elle, faisait semblant – et au 16 juillet au matin continuant à faire semblant – de n’avoir rien vu, rien entendu…".

    It seems to me very difficult to do a scientific publication based only on photos... Thus, it shouldn't really affect ESA teams to share the images in real time... and it would be so much advertizing for ESA to allow people to share this incredible adventure with them!



  • Nick tiller says:

    Sometimes it's time for us all to grow up a little in this case As long as my terrible impatience to see information is satisfied by some images data being released I am happy for the science team to be delivering the cream of the crop rather than an overwhelming raw feed.

  • Svetoslav says:


    I personally understand your point of view, though I don't agree with it. I understand it, because I'm involved in research activity. However, there is science and science. Not everything that the scientist does is interesting to other people. Those of us who work in a lab know it very well - cleaning glassware and other mundane activities.

    In space, it's the same. Dozens of satellites work in Earth Orbit and most of them are of no interest to the general public.

    Those who are of interest to the public, however, are space probes that are doing things for a very first time, that set new records. Let's remind you that this week we're celebrating 45 years since Apollo landings :) Time passes by and there are less and less objects to explore in the Solar system, less and less "firsts". Orbiting and landing a comet will be an amazing first.

    People want to participate in certain "firsts". You should understand that some missions are more interesting than others and some missions have high demand of data from other people. And people, to remind you, live in a society with priorities that have changed. People in general are no longer interested in funding government mission, in which they have no part. That's why, for example, space tourism is exciting. But that's exactly why projects like Constellation and human bases on the moon did not interest people and those projects got canceled - people just don't want government limousines for selected people. Applying this to planetary missions doing "first", people are not interested in funding such missions and if they don't play direct part in them.

    Publishing photos in almost real-time gives us the ability to feel part of those missions. That's why Spirit, Oppy and Curiosity were so successful. That's why they're praised.

    People don't understand scientific process. And frankly, they shouldn't. Most of them are not aware with terms like peer review and impact factor. But the fact they don't know about it, doesn't render the scientific process immune to criticism. So many people claim: space exploration is a waste of money, we need those money elsewere.

    Just give the public a chance to ride with you, guys! And don't worry that they will undermine the scientific results. Most of those fans are (as I said above) not interested in writing academic articles. They won't rob you of scientific results. They just want a seat on your spaceship, as tourists. When I travel around the world, I'm not doing science. I just travel.

    Best wishes!

  • Stefan Grotz says:

    I totally accept this decision but I think it wont't work at all. Pictures are already leaking uncontrolled and it won't get better when the mission is closer to the asteroid. Things are getting interesting when they are forbidden ;) so when you can not change your policy maybe the scientist themselves can.


  • I am so happy that this issue has been brought to light: ESA is scandalously poor in their PR performance. I don't want to hear any more bad excuses. Other agencies have done much better for years so it IS possible. This is NOT rocket science!


  • Pierre says:

    With all due respect, but I find it hard to believe that top-notch scientists would no longer apply for flying instruments on high-profile missions like Rosetta if they were required to immediately release all their data into the public domain.

    I fully agree that scientists deserve being rewarded in all possible ways for their excellent efforts, no doubt about it, but I don't see why this would be put at risk by adopting an open data policy.

    Best wishes,

  • Terran says:

    First I wan't to thank the project managers for their fast reaction to recent public demand and open letters beeing sent. Most arguments seem valid, but some are not. For example the competition "between the two camera systems" because of "scientific overlap". Thats just ridiculous for the public. As if it mattered that the LHCb was slightly quicker than Atlas in the Higgs search. No, they worked together and therefor increased the significance of the discovery (which was credited for CERN as a whole).
    I'm certain there's a way to do scientific work with the raw data and at same time satisfy the public hunger to be a slight part of this mission a little more especially in the beginning. Also having more "leaked" images going around could start to do harm to the project.
    To be honest do like your "blog" approach way more than to be directed to a website with all images, because there's a story behind it. So I applaud for that. (Rosetta is way more open then a certain other ESA instrument currently in space)

  • armchair explorer says:

    Bisschen WENIGER NASA wäre angebracht. Die NASA Nachäfferei brachte uns unter anderem Twitter-Nachrichten von Rosetta und Philae aus der Ich-Perspektive und wenig motivierenden Youtube-PR-Aktionismus - anstatt von gut aufbereiteter Information.

  • Ralph B says:

    When looking at the public interest in space exploration in Europe it never seems that there are many occasions where there is so much public interest.
    .. . And this is what ESA does on the few occasions in which ut has this interest from the public.

    Good job guys, on having even more people loose their interest when they see what youvare doing here and how you try to justify it.
    I think there are more than enought methods mentioned that allow you to secure your data and still let people take part in what is a very exciting journey.

  • Txemary says:

    The point its simple... MY TAXES, MY IMAGES,

    This mision is not about your dammed careers! its about expand human knowledge!

    Seriously? do you think ridiculous definition images are the same thing than other measurements of Rosetta?

    Have you ever heard something about popular science?

    • Emilio LB says:

      Public money, public data. If this means other people can make papers, whats the problem? Democratization of science made with my taxes money?


  • Peter Morgan says:

    The people who will do the analysis of the data, and get the academic credit for the analysis, will not be the same people who spent ten years designing and building the satellite and the instruments. The builders will get their credit if the instruments worked flawlessly to specification, whether any decent science ever emerges or not, so there is some speciousness to part of the argument offered in the blog. The designers of a successful mission will get all the more credit if many research groups compete to produce meaningful analysis, which they will be more likely to do if external research groups have equal access to all data. A running 6 months delay introduces a competitive gap that modifies what uses an external research group will make of a mission's data. ESA, by letting their internal researchers have first look, will likely reduce the total scientific analysis of the mission data.

    From a PR perspective, as has been pointed out in a number of ways in other comments, the neat graphic that could be produced by an external specialist science communicator from raw data with a few days work, using software and other skills that ESA may well not have, will never exist because in six months almost no-one will bother. But that content, which is as much artistic as scientific, renders no scientific credit that would hurt Rosetta's internal research group.

    This comment is not to be read by ESA employees until six months after 7/17/2014.

  • Dave Harvey says:

    If the selfish "proprietary period" is SO important to retain investigators, how come the Americans manage so well without it on most of their missions? Sorry, but demanding "special treatment" for investigators due to their perceived scarcity has the same moral authority here as paying millions of pounds to bankers on the same inappropriate excuse. For ESA, this is now a PR disaster, and it needs to realise what complete and utter fools its senior staff have made of themselves on this, and remove the proprietary period immediately. If they don't, they may suddenly find that lack of public money becomes more of a problem than lack of staff :-(

    I actually raised this point a week ago, before the current "leak", but what a surprise, my comment is still "awaiting moderation" - I wonder if this one will be censored as well?

  • jorge says:

    I allways thank scientifics are better than politics, but ESA works like politics people... with our money... the same like politics

  • Javier says:

    En una época en la que no estamos sobrados de dinero ¿Para que pagar el juguete privado de nadie?
    Estoy seguro que el ministerio de economía de mi país estará encantado de saber que ya no tiene que destinar un presupuesto a la ESA.

  • Alejo says:

    muy mal ESA. el objetivo de la ciencia es el conocimiento y este cuanto más abierto es, más rapidamente progresa

  • Luismi says:

    I hope the winners of your contents will be able to see something in realtime or maybe you will show them images fron the week before... I think bring some images to the public will do more benefits to ESA than hurt... come on! :( :(

  • Radoico Guimaraes says:

    How we commom people get interested in science and approve huge expenses in space research? By receiving up-to-date information as soon as these missions get them. We can't understand metadata, we just want travel into deep space with you and watch the sightseeing. Keep you the metadata and reward us, the general public, with the amazing pictures! Shame on you, gentlemen!

  • Richard Berry says:

    I covered the Giotto mission to Halley many years ago. The lengthy delay in the release of legible photos caused ESA's accomplishment to be essentially invisible to the American public. I cannot see how the release of JPEG images can compromise scientific priority of the imaging teams, and I know from my experience with the Giotto images that leaked, illicit images will become available long before ESA releases the "official" images. Best policy for the imaging teams is to release half-resolution JPEG images on a daily basis -- and build interest and public support in the mission and the Agency.

  • Briefly:
    People deserve recent images of the approach. No raw images, no data, is needed, only some significative pictures.

    Foundations of the ESA are public budget. ESA, show some respect to we, citizens whom are paying the agency through our taxes.

  • Jussi says:

    Every rock that the Curiosity rover images on Mars is a potential new discovery, and those images are being released immediately. Somehow this hasn't destroyed the careers of the scientists involved; rather they are now the superstars of the space science world. Please change the data policy to be more open and inclusive, and you'll do big favor to the public perception of space science in Europe.

  • Carlos T. Flores says:

    The images from comet inst you, is the people, why? everybody from EU pay this mission. Change please.

    Las imagenes no son suyas, son del pueblo europeo que somos los que pagamos esta misión y a la ESA. Por favor, cambien de politica y hagan buena ciencia.

  • santaklaus says:

    New images and a movie? No, I don't see it. I don't see any image. Bad article. Very bad. My pupils write best articles.

  • Jan Persson says:

    Great Pictures, and if they are a few hours late I can live with it.
    I Think the discussions are a Little bit hard. I have not seen such discussions looking at Hubble Telescope releases or how the Space Telescope institute prepare the photographs Before release.

    I realy enjoy this first-time-view of a new World!

  • José Ignacio Cimadevilla says:

    Dear Fred Jansen, Matt Taylor, Mark McCaughrean, the entire Rosseta team and ESA,

    The Rosetta mission is an inspiring one for the public, is the first time a space probe will orbit and land on a comet, this historical event have the potential to capture the interest of the world and inspire a young generation. I personally feel an incredible amount of gratitude and admiration for you and the entire Rosetta team, what you have achieved so far is amazing and deserves the highest praise. Doing Science (with a big S) at this level is one of the few things that lifts the human spirit and make us better persons.
    I'm sure everybody understand that you have dedicated a big part of your lives to this mission, and nobody is claiming that all pictures and scientific data should be released in real time, that would be nuts. But also I'm sure you know the importance of the people support. We want to be part of the Rosetta mission with you. We want to experience this amazing ride along you. We want to land on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and experience the wonder and awe with you. But this would not be possible with a pixelated jpeg every two weeks. I'm sure we can find a common ground that makes both the scientific team and the public opinion confortable. Please, let us be part of the exploration and discovery you are leading.
    We live in an information society and this means that some information should flow in real time, or as close as real time as possible in order to create and keep interest. If few pictures are published months after they were taken nobody will care about it and ESA will lose a precious opportunity to grow and nurture this interest. Support for scientific projects could be much bigger if information is open and accessible, making easy for the people to understand what is going on and why and how this amazing missions are done. Be close to the people and the people will be close to you.
    Also don't forget that the money you are using is coming from everybody's taxes, and we have the right to ask for the knowledge and discoveries that will be unfolded using your expertise.
    I have always thought that knowledge, this kind of knowledge must be free, shared and understood by the society. This is the way the people will support you and ESA. This is the way to increase funding in this missions. Exploration, research and discoveries are the best things we can do as human beings. So please don't take this precious journey of discovery away from us.
    Thank you.

  • Norberto Nosti Navarro says:

    I totally agree with these words. I sincerely hope that the ESA share more material with the public, with all of us. I am convinced that the whole ESA team will echo those words as sincere, clear and logical.

  • Maravillosas palabras las de uds. Cada una de ellas es un espejo de la calidad de individuo/s que actuan en la seccion de informaciones de la ESA. Es despreciable el trato que dan a todos los individuos que leen su declaracion. Por la forma de expresarce creia que estaba en el "dia de los inocentes", pero lamentablemente no es así. ¿A quien se le puede ocurrir que mostrando las fotografias nosotros vamos ser los héroes de descubrir algo que se les pase a uds?- Por favor lean y analicen lo escrito, como mínimo deben dar una pequeña explicacion y solicitar perdon a todos los que la leyeron, ya que nos han ofendido gratuitamente.
    Horacio (trinitro77-SondasEspaciales- Argentina)

  • Jose P says:

    Al equipo de Rosetta:
    Todas las explicaciones que dan son sabidas y dudo que la mayoría de la gente que reclama por las imagenes, lo haga con fines científicos. Sólo queremos compartir la emoción que ustedes están teniendo al ver las imágenes por primera vez.
    Creo que no hay excusas para compartir estas imágenes con el público. Tienen las herramientas y el conocimiento para procesarlas y dejarlas inútiles desde el punto de vista científico. Sólo queremos ver como es Chury con ustedes.
    Saludos cordiales.

  • GDW says:

    This policy is a huge mistake. Science must enter the 21st century and embrace modern communication. Why should scientists (of all people) be be so old fashioned and refuse to use technology to support their cause? How do you gain the attention of politicians who approve budgets? You generate massive public interest. Few will pay any attention to a picture released six months from now. ESA should have a free app that provides immediate release of new images (jpegs) as they come in so everyone with a smart phone can see the images immediately.
    I sincerely hope the mission goes very well. It is a spectacular scientific opportunity. It is tragic that this golden opportunity to build interest in space science is being flushed down the toilet. I will enjoy the occasional photo released here. But I will also feel sadness and anger at this wasted opportunity.

  • Francois Lagrange says:

    Thank you for your explanation, but I can not accept such a big business approach. As a tax payer, I am very happy to have part of my tax Euros go to science, for the benefit of mankind. However, if I have to see that these Euros are diverted to support a limited set of priviliged scientists and, certainly also, greedy companies that were able to keep the rights for themselves, I'd rather withdraw my support.

    Seriously, your kind of mea culpa for not sharing makes people rightly wonder if (this kind of) science is still something that should be supported. And without such support, these priviliged scientists wouldn't even have data to look at; you, yourselves, wouldn't even have this job.

    If I had a real choice, I 'd certainly withdraw my support for such missions as Rosetta or Planck, and convert my Euro to USD in support of Curiosity.

    Disappointing, really. I was not naive, but this really lessens my enthusiasm for this kind of research.

  • Stuart Atkinson says:

    I wrote about this issue on my blog. Time for change.

  • Dave Harvey says:

    There is however one other downside of the current “hide everything” policy which is especially important for time-limited missions such as this. What if someone (professional scientist or not), outside the official team were to spot something interesting in the data, which had been missed by the core privileged group – something which required further investigation, perhaps from orbit? That might be something which would provide a great step forward for planetary science, but of course that couldn’t happen, as the person who spots it would only see it 6 months after the data was acquired, by which time it would be too late to make the necessary follow-up observations :-( Were this to happen (and I consider it quite plausible, even it not actually likely), then could ESA really justify having sacrificed the possible science just to satisfy the egos and selfishness of those spending money on our behalf?

    For this reason, perhaps it is not ONLY the "pretty pictures" that should be released - I would argue that ALL the data generated through public money should be treated as public property. I will be raising this at a political level - it might be too late for Rosetta, but wouldn't it be nice if some countries in Europe made their support for future missions conditional on full and immediate data release?

  • Ray says:

    I absolutely agree to this post!

    A few weeks ago I posted a small comment here, with a request for more real-time data, and how this would excite interested people. This comment didn't even make it to the blog...

  • tomduf says:

    Je crois que tout a été dit...
    Je me suis passionné pour cette mission depuis des années. J'ai impliqué des élèves de ma classe dans des recherches (TPE) en 2013 / 2014, j'ai claironné partout qu'il fallait suivre cette mission tout l'été jusqu'au mois de novembre, j'ai fait l'apologie du défi relevé par l'ESA auprès de tous mes amis et collègues en leur disant que cela serait exceptionnel et que chaque jours nous aurions des images nouvelles, surtout lors de la phase d'approche.
    Quelle déception, vous privez l'Humanité toute entière du plaisir de la découverte et de la connaissance pure. Dans six mois, quelle sera l'excitation d'avoir les photos libérées de la période "propriétaire" ?
    Vous rendez-vous compte de ce terme ? propriétaire ! Allez-vous planter le drapeau européen sur Churi ?
    Que des données scientifiques complexes issues de capteurs sophistiqués nécessitent une analyse poussée avant de tirer quelque conclusion scientifique que ce soit et ne soient pas intelligible par le grand public, certes, mais des images !!! Des images d'un monde inconnu de l'Homme !
    Sans parler d'argent (même si mes impôts ont contribué à financer le développement de cette mission), comment peut-on retenir des informations aussi passionnantes alors que des millions de gens vous suivent depuis des années au moment où cela devient le plus excitant ?
    Nous ne demandons pas grand choses : de simples et sublimes images qui grossissent jour après jour de juillet au mois d'août !
    Ne comprenez-vous pas que vous auriez pu susciter des vocations par milliers au cours de cet été ?
    De plus, n'est-ce pas l'ESA qui a généré une attente insoutenable en nous faisant grossir les images de un à quelques pixels... et puis après plus rien !! ? Attendez 15 jours... Quel scandale !
    Nous apprenons à présent que seule la presse "spécialisée" aurait le droit et l'honneur d'assister à la découverte des premières images lors d'une conférence le six août...
    Bref, il est toujours temps de revoir votre politique de communication si décevante.

  • Robert Schlingensiepen says:

    It is hard for me to understand the 6 month release policy. As had been said by others, one should distinguish between data coming from specific instruments which requires analysis (and is unintelligible for most of the public) and images. Images is what most of the viewing public is interested in.

    Probably, a protective legal construct could even be found to prevent any "keen and fast" outside scientist from publishing a paper with revolutionary insights based on the released images, maintaining exclusivity for the instrument team for the famous 6 months.

    I must say, the 6 months policy is ridiculous and goes against this most characteristic human trait that drives the project scientists and all interested spectators: curiosity.

    What a shame.

  • CParker says:

    Regardless of which team, institute or organisation is doing what with the data.
    at the end it was the taxpayer financing this whole undertaking, and i'm more then disappointed not to find a daily update here.
    if this is, what to expect from space science, then i gonna vote against continuing missions like this, cause even IF you produce some science output there, me, the financing part of it, is sitting in front of a closed curtain and can just guess how the show is going behind it.

  • Toshula says:

    I was following day after day the mission with my 5 year old son. We drew the solar system, the approach of rosetta, and sticked to it each new photos. Nice occupation for the holydays

    This limited access to data will now raise, for sure, his interest into these great and inspiring notions of "proprietary period" and "scientific publication process", and it will make him grow even more. Thanks for this opportunity.

  • PeterG says:

    It saddens me that with this continuing outpour of genuine interest by a global (internet-) audience the top management of ESA has remained silent.

    The comet is growing exponentially in the camera's as we speak, an absolutely unique "Breaking News" item, but not a word of acknowledgement from the ESA top.
    Emily, you are moderating, can you at least tell us that this blog is also perused in ESA HQ?

  • Abraham says:

    Very disappointing... reminds me of the recent human brain simulation spate...

  • Tony R says:

    Calling all EU citizen's. Stop trying to advise, counsel or complain to the ESA "managers'" that are telling YOU the way THEY will run things. Get on the phones to your local ELECTED EU rep and tell THEM that YOU (the taxpayers) want FULL DAILY ACCESS to ALL the data, ALL the images and ALL the activity going on at the control site or YOU will (1) file a lawsuit to get such and (2) will advocate to friends, relatives, work colleagues and anybody else who will listen, that ESA is not worthy of financial support and funds should be curtailed. Use YOUR modern day "CITIZENSHIP POWER" if you really want to participate in a government program. It is ridiculous to say that wannabee space scientists or engineers will NOT want to pursue careers in search of space interests because they don't get some fabricated 6-month "priority". What else are they going to do? Join other industries? Fine. Their absence will create a void that WILL be filled by others. Come on and use some CIVIC sense if you REALLY care to get regular and immediate access.

  • galacsi says:

    Well , I hope there will be no censoring ! Because what happens if this comet is not exactly what the mainstream science think it must be ?

    Will the not convenient facts pushed under the rug or will we have an honest report and all the maybe disturbing data.

    Call me parano if you want ,but this is not a trusting policy.

  • Mike V. says:

    Very strange, to be so tight lipped with data from a mission that would of never happened without public tax funds.

    release the data and let the world enjoy the science.

  • I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice,
    keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future.
    Many thanks

  • Leo Vuyk says:

    I am very interested in the existence of a magnetic / electric field of the comet including gravitational dark matter point sources.

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