What is the deal with the ESA???

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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 2:21 PM 

Looking at the wonderful pictures from Spirit and reading the great news article by Doug....I was struck by the contrast between NASA and the ESA(Mars Express) Why all the secrecy??? If there is a site with thousands of Mar Express photos I can't find it. I guess Mars Express can only produce 1 photo a month?? But a few months ago I read a quote by someone at the ESA saying that Mars Express was the MOST successful Mars Mission ever flown. Well...they did make a big announcement about discovering water ice. I thought we already knew that in the 70s. So what is the deal with the ESA? Are they afraid that "amateurs" would soil their data?? Just some thought I had.


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 2:36 PM 

ESA really makes me appreciate NASA all the more!

Art Martin

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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 3:02 PM 

Boy, no kidding. With the Marsis boom deployed for about a month now, you'd think we'd also be getting a glimpse into the data it's returning. Are they finding hints of underground water pockets? Why the silence?



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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 3:25 PM 

I think MARSIS still must go through a calibration phase; for some reason I don't think we'll see results of MARSIS data until December.

But yes, the raw orbiter images ought to be made available; it's not too expensive to set aside a public server to mirror some of the photos. I guess Express's big claim to fame is it's stereo images of surface features, which requires post-processing to render the 3-D images, and for that reason we only see the "pretty press pictures"?


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 3:56 PM 

What do you expect from a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys? Wink

That is an impolite way of saying it is a cultural difference. In europe the scientists and agencies invloved take ownership of their data and jealosuly guard it form others. It is more important WHO gets to analyzie the data and make any discoveries than providing open access to the data itslef. Bunch of self important nut cases if you ask me.

NASA's philosophy is more that the data is public property, and they make it available to ALL scientists. Plus it is an important PR thing for NASA.

For NASA, it is more important that the public media can see all the wonderful work they are doing. For the ESA, each memebr nation takes national pride in showing that the italians did this or the french did that, so they do not release their data publicly.


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 8:42 PM 

I make the observation that the more who see these amazing photos, the more discoveries will come to attention of the experts (albeit, through sifting through some less prudent observations).

Thanks for all your scrutiny. I ponder things I may never have.

Lurker (for most part)


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 8:42 PM 

I make the observation that the more who see these amazing photos, the more discoveries will come to attention of the experts (albeit, through sifting through some less prudent observations).

Thanks for all your scrutiny. I ponder things I may never have.

Lurker (for most part)


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 9:27 PM 

I agree, ESA is very frustrating to come forth with raw images (except for the Huygens probe on Titan).
Their weekly Mars images are stunning though:

Photo: ESA
More here:


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PostPosted: August 24, 2005 10:17 PM 

Two words: superstate bureaucracy. Smile


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PostPosted: August 26, 2005 1:22 AM 

Mach, I think you can thank the CiClops team at Arizona for the early release of Huygens pictures. If it was ESA, we'd probably still have only that cruddy little picture from the surface.


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PostPosted: August 26, 2005 11:21 AM 



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PostPosted: August 27, 2005 7:53 PM 

To all,

On the website from ESA a lot of artist impressions and a few images compare to the ten of thousands that NASA provide.
ESA, this is a discovery voyage, all data must be accessible for all people, shame on you!!


Doug Ellison

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PostPosted: August 27, 2005 8:14 PM 

"all data must be accessible for all people"


Bingo. Same release schedule as MOC and Themis

I agree - daily imagery would be nice, but the data IS accessible.


John Woodall

Posts: 77

Reply: 13

PostPosted: August 27, 2005 8:44 PM 

I just took a look at this site "http://www.rssd.esa.int/index.php?project=PSA"
Give me a break. I don't know what orbit number to ask for. I don't have time to figure out some arcane interface. Why not just have the images out there like NASA?

Doug Ellison

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Reply: 14

PostPosted: August 27, 2005 9:03 PM 

"Why not just have the images out there like NASA? "

I agree - the interface is crap - the Themis interface would be a LOT better. However - to say that the data isnt available is just not true, because it is.

Lest we forget, until MER and Cassini - getting raw imagery every day was totally unheard of. ESA are doing with Mars Express exactly what NASA did with every mission they did in the last Century - a few tit-bits here and there, then go get the raw data 6 months later.

It's not unreasonable to suggest that ESA should be doing more - I agree, they should. However - what they are doing is a bare minimum, which is more than, say, JAXA.



John Woodall

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PostPosted: August 27, 2005 9:06 PM 

Oh stop defending it. In the old days NASA didn't have the internet.

Doug Ellison

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PostPosted: August 27, 2005 9:20 PM 

Were the raw images from Pathfinder put online every day? Nope.

Where are the raw images from Stardust? Deep in the PDS as img's What about DS1's images...nothing - got to dive VERY deep to find those. Where are the images from Hubble? Deep in an archive online - not available online every day. Where were the Galileo images put? A few tit-bits, the rest into the PDS after a year.The NEAR images? A few tit bits - but the 100,000's of images taken were dumped into an archive like all science data. Where are the images from SIRTIF & Galex....not online daily - deep in a text-box accessed archive.

I'm not saying ESA is doing a good job -they're not - and infact I've been more vocal than most in criticizing ESA's outreach efforts. It would be nice for them to do a LOT more - and indeed they have a moral obligation to do so in some respects.

But they are doing no worse than NASA has done in recent history - and are essentially matching MGS and Odyssey - titbits here and there, then archived data every 3-6 months. The only shortfall is the interval of tit-bit images ( every couple of weeks intead of every day - but MEX does take a lot fewer images than either of the NASA Mars orbiters ) - and the quality of the raw data interface.

A clickable map interface much like the Themis one that would unify Themis, MOC, MOLA, Viking and MEX data is LONG overdue. Sadly, no one will pay for it.

I'm not defending it - I'm simply giving it context.


Doug Ellison

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Reply: 17

PostPosted: August 27, 2005 9:25 PM 

Just to put you in the picture - I'm actually working on a package of recommendations and research to take to ESA to help improve their outreach efforts - ideally a set of minimum guidelines that every mission must match. How well it will be accepted AT ESA - I dont know - but I hear and agree with your general senitment.


John Woodall

Posts: 77

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PostPosted: August 27, 2005 9:32 PM 

I know you have to defend it. Even if it means going back 10 years for an example. So I will make it easy and agree with you!.....
WOW!! That ESA/Mars Express Site ROCKS!!! It is WONDERFUL!!! The quantity of images for public consumption is staggering! I won't hang out here anymore!! The Mars Express site is the place to be for the LATEST interesting info. And all the data is sooooo accessible too! See you all there!!!

Phil Stooke

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PostPosted: August 28, 2005 1:00 AM 

ESA's Planetary Science Archive is a bit tricky to use, though I have recently downloaded some images from it successfully. But Mars Forum image folk might like to know that Mars Express data are also available through PDS. Go here:


for an intro page. You can link to different instruments. Follow the links, and eventually you get to a page allowing access to browse images and the original data. In browse, you get a list of orbits, and each one links to the browse images (jpg) for that orbit, plus a label file with pixel sizes for the full image. Then you can use the pixel dimensions to load the full data as a raw image in any viewer software.

We still need a clickable map, and I was told there is no plan for it for at least a year, but I also know somebody who is applying for a job with PSA and thinking of that map as a project. Maybe it will come to pass...


Doug Ellison

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PostPosted: August 28, 2005 6:22 AM 


I'm giving it CONTEXT. They are meeting their obligations, and nothing more. It would be nice, and they should be doing a lot more.

I'm agreeing with you - you just seem hellbent on making out that I'm not.


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