NASA chooses Microsoft to make space flight data more public
WOW! Take a look at the press pass (the news organ for Microsoft) at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2009/mar09/03-24NASADataPR.mspx
The deeper detail of the data share is to be revealed, right now, it is providing photo data. My need is to be able to get the data in a useable form that isn’t “open source”. The poorly implemented and documented data shares using the OCD processes was poorly documented. It appears that interesting experiments like the GRACE satellite systems that used gravity as way to measure ice floes, etc. was presented in a manner that was useful, if you had a degree in orbital mechanics and had worked on the satellite.
Say you want to review the data that indicates that the sea levels are rising, after all science requires that experiments should be repeatable (although there are no rules that the ability to repeat the experiment is suppose to be easy). However, to be able to utilize the data from the GRACE satellite, you would have to be able to use C, FORTRAN or IDL.
Hopefully this partnership between Microsoft and NASA will make data from research satellites like GRACE, and so forth easier to access with commonly used data access tools. The current process keeps the data locked in data systems that work well for academics, but the shade tree scientists like you are left out. Who knows, the statistical data from the GRACE satellites could use other eyeballs on the data. Using poorly documented processes to store the data is a mis-use of the taxpayers money, granted in the past satellite data has usually been the realm of the academic and professional scientist.
That time has changed, and I am glad to see that Microsoft is moving to make the information available for all to use, a true research product for the people!