Date: Fri Aug 27 1993 00:00:00 Subj: Mars Observer PI #2 1/ SKEPTIC - This is the second m

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Date: Fri Aug 27 1993 00:00:00 From: Anson Kennedy Subj: Mars Observer PI #2 1/ SKEPTIC ------------------------------- This is the second message by the Mars Observer Principle investigator, Mike Malin. --- Anson Newsgroups: Path:!netcomsv!!olivea!!!g From: (Mike Malin) Subject: MOC PI Comments: Proprietary Rights to Images (Long) Message-ID: Sender: (USENET News System) Organization: Mars Observer TES Project, ASU, Tempe AZ Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1993 19:20:08 GMT Lines: 130 This posting is from Mike Malin, Principal Investigator of the Mars Observer Camera, in response to the net discussions that have been going on during the past two weeks. Please do not respond to the e-mail address above. My only link to the network is through this third party and I don't want them deluged with replies. I do read the net occassionally and will try to respond when time and interest permit. Topic: Proprietary Rights to Mars Observer Camera images The first thing you must recognize is the difference between a facility instrument and a Principal Investigator instrument. With the former, NASA or its designated field center (JPL in the case of planetary missions) contracts to buy the instrument, either from industry or from within its own facilities. In the latter case, NASA contracts with an individual (actually, his institution) for an investigation (more on this in a moment). Since Mariner 6 & 7 in 1969, all planetary S/C cameras have been facility instruments built by JPL to specifications developed interactively with a group of scientists (a facility team) who proposed separately to conduct specific science tasks. Generally, these scientists had very little knowledge or interest in the hardware, and were more than content to let the engineers at JPL decide what capabilities were to be incorporated. The scientists were guaranteed "first rights" to the data in return for devoting much of their "discretionary" research time (i.e., time not supported by teaching or other institutional duties) to the project. Most of my colleagues spend between 3 and 5 times as much time on their flight project commitments as they are paid for, including considerable travel time. The ancillary advantages of flight project participation (computing hardware, augmented staff support, prestige) are less compensation than perquisites (i.e., they result in "nice" improvements in one's ability to conduct research, but usually not anything truly "enabling"), and often do not compensate for the loss of time to devote to science. When the Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter Science Working Group did not recommend a facility camera be flown on that mission (which was renamed Mars Observer later), that allowed, for the first time in 25 years, for a PI camera. In PI instruments, NASA selects investigations, not just instruments. A total package must be proposed, including the development of the instrument (and its testing), its operations and data collection, and the processing and interpretation of the data. In PI instruments, NASA buys knowledge, not hardware or data. Proposals that seek to provide less than this whole are considered "unresponsive" and are often returned without consideration. For a PI, the work effort is even greater than for a facility team leader or member. The compensation is somewhat better (I ended up being paid probably 80% of my time by MOC), but the hours are even more monsterous. I've worked 60-80 hr weeks for most of the past 6 years, and much of my team averaged 50-60 hrs during that same time (remember, as non-exempt salaried employees, we're only paid for 40 hrs). True, I now have a staff of 14 (before I had 1) and a wealth of computer hardware, but my science output for the past six years has been pitiful (hopefully, though, that's about to change). So what is the inducement? Well, there are at least four (not in any particular order): 1. I get to do it MY way. Not really, of course. When you have a engineering team, you do it their way (or your stupid). But you do get considerably greater responsivity from a team you've hand-picked and who work directly for and with you, than you might from a more distant (both in space and time) group selected independently by NASA. This leads to a remarkably greater instrument capability, since you can trade off risk and performance directly, without intermediaries. 2. I get to control what is actually done with the instrument. Thus, specific science topics near and dear to my heart are those that get precedent. Laying to rest some misconceptions about Mars that have propagated into the literature can be quite satisfying. 3. I get to be the first to see many new things about a planet I've studied for almost 25 years. 4. I get to etablish the new precedents in the literature (for better or worse). This is a part of the story of the much maligned proprietary rights period. There are a couple of other reasons for the proprietary rights period that are induced by our contract with NASA. First, NASA only wants to archive the data once. So they want it "bested" (all end-to-end data dropouts that can be fixed should be fixed), they want the final ancillary information (pointing, spacecraft position, etc.), they want a detailed "experimenter's notebook" (why was each datum collected, was the collection successful, is it what was requested, etc.), and they want it all in a format that can be easily transferred to the Planetary Data System which, in concert with the National Space Science Data Center, is responsible for archiving and disceminating planetary mission data to interested scientists and lay persons. Second, NASA requires us to deliver results, not just data. So we are not in accord with our contracts unless we provide interim science reports on an agreed upon schedule. Given budget limitations that lead to personnel limitations, a certain period of time is needed to both validate the data and prepare the preliminary science reports. Previous missions have had 1 year proprietary rights periods, and Voyager took almost 2 years to get the initial Jupiter data out to the general community. On the other hand, Mars Observer's "standard" release is six months from receipt, with the following kluge resulting from scheduling issues and data infusion limitations of the PDS: the first month's data will be available in month seven, the second through sixth month's data will be available in month 13, the 7th through 12th month's in month 19, etc. While I recognize this may be irritating to some, it represents a reasonable compromise with the realities of physical data systems and human nature. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem from my perspective, consider that MOC will take roughly 3 terabits of decompressed image data in 687 days compared to Magellan's 3 terabits in 243 days, which means that MOC will acquire the same amount of data in its standard mission as Magellan did in its. Granted, there is a rate difference (about 1/3), but we're doing it with nearly a factor of 20 fewer people, and for a budget that's at least an order of magnitude smaller (the difference is machines, not higher salaries). And we're responsible for BOTH uplink and downlink planning and operations. The bottom line on proprietary rights: as stated by several people on the net, these rights are often viewed as an inducement to get good people to work on projects. This is only part of the explanation...NASA requires considerable work to be performed on the data prior to their release (in a way, the data are out of NASA's hands when released, and they want the data to be in the best, final form at that time). The proprietary rights period will not prevent the public from seeing many of the more interesting and important discoveries from the mission (see accompanying message re: public access to MOC data). It assures that the return on the initial investment is maximized and prepares the material for further use.


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