I’ve had a few people asking me why I’ve stopped blogging about ROSETTA and Comet 67P. Well, it’s mainly because I’ve been horrendously busy getting ready for the solar eclipse on March 20th – we held a big event here in Kendal for that, and although cloud meant we only got a few brief glimpses of the Sun it was still a very enjoyable morning – and have been snowed under with editing work too, but also, to be honest, because I’ve just grown sick and weary of waiting for new images, or at least new images worth sitting down and writing about.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still a huge fan and supporter of the mission, and am very grateful to the NAVCAM team for continuing to release images of the nucleus of Comet 67 waking up. Every day they release into the wild a new image showing jets and plumes and streamers of material shooting off the thawing nucleus, and it’s a privilege to be able to see and show others breathtaking pictures like these most recent ones…
As I’ve said here before, the NAVCAM images essentially *are* the ROSETTA mission for the public, and for Outreachers and educators like me, so, again, thank you NAVCAM team, your tireless efforts to promote and support the ROSETTA mission are greatly appreciated.
But where are the OSIRIS images? The OSIRIS team is still holding those pictures hostage, and it’s getting a bit pathetic now to be honest. There have been a few big science conferences recently, at which OSIRIS images have been shown, but none have been released to the public for ages. It’s now over a month since the Feb 14th 6km fly-past of 67P by ROSETTA and although one image was released after that by the OSIRIS team it was just one image, out of how many that were taken? I really had thought we would have seen some more images taken during that close encounter by the OSIRIS camera by now, but no, like so many others they’re still being kept under lock and key by the OSIRIS team and its PI.
Their worries about having their scientific results stolen by others are well known and well-documented now, and I understand their concerns, but come on… if they’re showing images at conferences, to roomfuls of their competition and to journalists, are they really right to be so paranoid about releasing images to the public? I don’t buy it, not for a moment. I have no doubt that they could release a few choice images without risking their science, none at all. They just don’t want to.
Well, you know what? Whatever. If they want to drag ESA’s image – which has made such huge strides recently – back to the Dark Ages, when every image taken by an ESA probe was jealously horded like a dragon’s gold, that’s up to them. If they want to reinforce the public’s opinion that scientists are cold boffins who think their work is too complicated for “normal” people to understand, or even be shared with, that’s up to them. If they want people to compare and contrast NASA’s image release policy with theirs, that’s up to them. If they want to hide behind their closed doors, looking at their precious images in private, knowing but not caring that people out here who paid for those images to be taken in the first place are desperate to see them, that’s up to them.
For me now, as for many people I’m sure, the NAVCAM images are the ROSETTA mission, and the OSIRIS images are anomalies which sometimes crop up, cause a brief flurry of excitement, and are then gone again.
I used to get angry about this, but not any more.I just think it’s sad that in this amazing year, at this thrilling time, when we are seeing Ceres close-up for the first time, and when we are preparing to fly past Pluto for the first time, when the public are more engaged with space exploration, more excited by it than they have been for years, when Europe has a beyond-incredible mission to explore a comet, the OSIRIS team is refusing to join the party.
Oh well, it’s their loss.
Meanwhile, 67P is warming up nicely, so keep checking back here for more of those gorgeous NAVCAM images 🙂
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