Copyright © 2004 by Ned Chapin. Published by The Mars Society with permission.
A RISING FLOOD OF DATA
InfoSci Inc., Menlo Park CA 94026-7117, USA
The successes of the recent robotic missions to Mars have generated a rising flood of data, and greatly enriched our factual knowledge of the red planet. The first successful robotic Mars mission (Mariner 4) was nearly 40 years ago and sent back only 21 black-and-white visual images. Taken together, current robotic Mars missions have been sending back during 2004 nearly that much per sol. The current rovers and orbiters can produce visual images in color and in greater resolution than ever before, as well as producing major amounts of non-image data (such as from thermometers, magnetometers, radars, spectrometers, etc.). How much data have been received is summarized in this report.
The incoming data from Mars have been and are being archived for later analysis. But these data are also stimulating some currently done analysis toward two main ends. One is the on-going direction of the mission. The other is preliminary analyses for status reports on the “science” or “findings” that relate to the formal mission objectives. More detail will be forthcoming for the current missions in the final project reports and in some technical papers that the project science and engineering personnel will tender for publication. What is greatly underfunded are full and detailed analyses not just of the data from any one mission, but those data in relation to the data from other missions. We have to ask how much knowledge awaits discovery in the rising flood of data from Mars?
Keywords: Mars data received, Mars mission productivity, use of Mars data, diversity of Mars data