The Price of Open Science - Scientific American Blog Network
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-05-24
"The Gaia satellite has just issued its most recent data release, the largest and most complete stellar census yet of our Galaxy, precipitating a virtual explosion of discovery in the world of astronomy. As I complete this article, dozens of articles have already posted on the open access online preprint archive astro-ph. This bounty of data is the fruit of many years of work on the part of over a thousand engineers and scientists. About half that effort was in the design, construction, launch and current operation of the Gaia satellite. The other half, still ongoing, is a science consortium dedicated to transforming satellite telemetry into science products: the positions, motions, parallaxes and measured fluxes of well over a billion stars. Our view of the Milky Way will never be the same. Some of the scientists currently involved in the data processing have worked on the Gaia mission their entire career, starting with formulating the initial concept proposal to the European Space Agency (ESA) some 20 years ago. For us long-term team members of the collaboration this data release is a culminating moment of our career. We are seeing our dream come true.
But I have to confess to some mixed feelings as well. As a result of their dedication, many of these starry-eyed dreamers have suffered delayed career advancement, as many academic and research institutes only measure scientific productivity via citable publications. Our institutes have given us the freedom to work on the mission and paid our salaries, but our time in Gaia is considered as scientifically non-productive. This continues to be a problem for young and old alike, because this mission still has years of data processing ahead of it...."