A Giant Spot and Open Data

A Giant Spot

On July 10, 2017, Juno completed its 7th and final close flyby of the gas giant, Jupiter. (In cosmic terms, “close flyby” meant 6,130 miles.) In this final flyby, the Juno spacecraft snapped a close-up shot of the Giant Red Spot, a hurricane-like storm that is as big as Earth and that has been raging for at least 160 years.

juno1NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt

Launched in August 2011, Juno’s job is to closely collect and gather data on Jupiter. NASA states Juno’s explicit goals are to:

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.

Overall, this mission will give us a better understanding of how Jupiter begin and how it evolved into the planet it is today.

Open Data

US Copyright law states a work “prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties” is not subject to domestic copyright law. Meaning, most of the work created and published by the US government are no copyrighted, and therefore, can be used for any educational and informational purposes.

Take, for example, the picture of Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot seen above. This image was manipulated and composed by a citizen scientist using raw data gathered by NASA, a government agency. It was the right of this citizen scientist to us this information for their own and the community’s informational needs. We, as citizens, have as equal of ownership of the data as the government because we paid for the acquisition and distribution through our tax dollars.

This extends beyond just the data and information collected by NASA. All government departments and agencies are fantastic resources for gathering research sources. These agencies provide raw and analyzed data that can be used for research and educational purposes.

Here are some excellent government resources for your college projects:

The open  access to United States Government data is a right not shared by many other countries. It allows for open discussion and analysis of publicly funded practices and scientific inquiries. Unfortunately, I could not include access to the EPA’s data on climate change as the current administration has removed that information.

 

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