It’s always exciting when the exoplanets rise to the fore of the national discourse.
This morning’s New York Times has a very interesting article about the Kepler Mission’s proprietary data policy. In April, NASA granted the Kepler team an additional window, through February 2011, in which photometry for 400 particularly interesting stars is to be kept out of the public domain.
The article contains all the elements of exoplanetary intrigue that foreshadow traffic spikes for oklo.org in the months ahead. From the P.I., Bill Borucki:
“If I sent you 0’s and 1’s it would be useless… If we say ‘Yes, they are small planets — you can be sure they are.'”
From Ohio State’s Scott Gaudi:
“They need help,” he said, “If they were more open they would be able to get more science out…”
Delicious mention of formal non-disclosure agreements. Big-picture discussions of the meaning of data ownership in the context of federally funded research. 12,000 “suspicious dips” painstakingly distilled to 750 planetary candidates — a near-doubling, in one fell swoop, of the galactic planetary census.
And the oklo.org take? The astronomical enterprise is sometimes an excellent sandbox, a model, for understanding real-world problems. As an interested outsider, I definitely relish the challenges posed by a high-profile data set released under partial duress — a collection of both the ones and the zeroes, where the redactions can speak volumes.