Improving data access democratizes and diversifies science | PNAS

Abstract:  The foundation of the scientific method rests on access to data, and yet such access is often restricted or costly. We investigate how improved data access shifts the quantity, quality, and diversity of scientific research. We examine the impact of reductions in cost and sharing restrictions for satellite imagery data from NASA’s Landsat program (the longest record of remote-sensing observations of the Earth) on academic science using a sample of about 24,000 Landsat publications by over 34,000 authors matched to almost 3,000 unique study locations. Analyses show that improved access had a substantial and positive effect on the quantity and quality of Landsat-enabled science. Improved data access also democratizes science by disproportionately helping scientists from the developing world and lower-ranked institutions to publish using Landsat data. This democratization in turn increases the geographic and topical diversity of Landsat-enabled research. Scientists who start using Landsat data after access is improved tend to focus on previously understudied regions close to their home location and introduce novel research topics. These findings suggest that policies that improve access to valuable scientific data may promote scientific progress, reduce inequality among scientists, and increase the diversity of scientific research.


Earth Science Engagement Through Art and Astronaut Photography

“For over five decades of manned spaceflight missions, NASA astronauts have taken extraordinary photographs of Earth’s surface and dynamic processes. Humans on board the International Space Station (ISS) have a unique platform to perform Earth observations at various viewing angles, seasons, and times of day. Astronaut photos taken from the ISS comprise a true?color (RGB) dataset taken with multiple handheld digital cameras and lens types (prior to 2004, film cameras were in use). Earth observations through astronaut photography are an important and unique remote sensing method when monitoring natural disasters, urban growth, and environmental changes. While astronaut imagery can be used for earth science research, there is also an artistic aspect to the photography that fascinates a wide global population. A broader public audience can be introduced to earth science through high resolution, Earth art photos taken from the perspective of an astronaut. The Crew Earth Observations (CEO) Facility within the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center supports the acquisition, analysis, and curation of astronaut photography of Earth’s surface and atmosphere. CEO’s website, the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth (, provides free public access to view, search, and download over three million images taken by astronauts throughout all of NASA’s crewed spaceflight history, with an emphasis on current ISS imagery. The CEO Facility actively curates a digital collection of exceptional Earth art astronaut photos used for public engagement. Our new Downloadable Earth Art page focuses on broad earth science topics including: mountains, water, clouds, agriculture, as well as an “abstract” category. This continuously?updated collection is comprised of freely accessible and high?quality downloadable materials, such as single? and dual?screen digital wallpapers. All Earth Art materials are presented with science?based information that complements the artistic qualities of the imagery, and facilitate connections between general audiences and earth science from the International Space Station.”

Notes on the Public Access to Public Science Act – Harvard Open Access Project

“PAPS requires covered federal agencies to develop public-access policies (Section 2.a). There are four covered agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Weather Service….” 

NASA Honors Renowned UMD Comet Science Pioneer Michael A’Hearn | UMD Right Now :: University of Maryland

“On June 12, at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA posthumously awarded the Exceptional Public Service Medal to University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor Michael F. A’Hearn, one of the world’s leading cometary scientists. The NASA Medal is for “fundamental work on comets and small bodies of the solar system, leadership in space missions, and ensuring public access to data from NASA missions and related projects.” …In addition to being a pillar of cometary science, another major contribution to planetary science was A’Hearn’s nearly three decades as principal investigator for the Small Bodies Node, which is the part of NASA’s Planetary Data System that specializes in the archiving, cataloging, and distributing scientific data sets relevant to asteroids, comets and interplanetary dust. A founder and advocate for the Planetary Data System, A’Hearn championed its mission to preserve data of planets and make it publically accessible….”

Follow-Up on NASA Providing Open Access to All Its Funded Research | Exposing PseudoAstronomy

“As a NASA grant awardee, you have the option to submit your accepted manuscript(s) to NASA’s PubSpace repository. PubSpace is available from a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA to allow wider access to the results of federally-funded research. For the grant listed below, you may deposit any peer-reviewed manuscripts describing work supported by NASA awards that were published or accepted for publication through the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system. At this time, this is not a Term and Condition of the grant listed below; however, you may voluntarily submit any manuscripts that were a result of the funded research from this grant.

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