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In the hunt for planets, who owns the data?

New York Times
14 June 2010

Astronomers operating NASA's Kepler spacecraft released a list of about 350 stars newly suspected of harboring planets, including five systems with multiple candidate planets. That data could dramatically swell the inventory of alien worlds, which now stands at 461, none of them habitable by the likes of us.

Astronomers everywhere, who have been waiting since Kepler's launch in March 2009 to get their hands on this data, will be rushing to telescopes to examine these stars in the hopes of advancing the grand quest of finding Earthlike planets capable of harboring life out there. But a lot of attention has been paid in astronomical circles over the past few months to what the Kepler team will not be saying. By agreement with NASA, the team is holding back data on its 400 brightest and best planet candidates, which the astronomers intend to observe themselves over a busy summer.

Full story from New York Times