Comment on the ESA Statement on Rosetta image releases

The arguments explained here may make some sense for the orbital and intense hi-res mapping phase later this summer (though I have yet to hear about a single case where freely released uncalibrated raw close-up images from a NASA interplanetary mission have been used to 'steal' science from the instrument team).

But the current way is just not logical for the ongoing approach phase: who is writing scientific papers already about the distant nucleus that is just turning into a shape? And on the weekly schedule a sampling of these images is coming out anyway, with a few days delay: if you'd want to make your own comet shape model etc. you could anyway.

Presenting the approach images, say, one per day and with only hours delay would thus not endanger any priorites but instead give the eager public a unique chance to 'join the ride', just as they can with Cassini or the Mars rovers. This is 21st century space science outreach. The aftermath of yesterday's "leak" amply demonstrated how thankful the public is.

And, guess what, such an open, inclusive style has been around before , way before the WWW - let alone social media - appeared: ESA itself dared to show the approach to Halley's nucleus from Giotto's camera in real time in 1986 (albeit in an awful color representation for which, as I understand, German TV and not the HMC team was to blame).

And the same was true throughout the 1980s during the various Voyager encounters with the giant planets and their moons when unexplored worlds were viewed by the science team and the public at large (via NASA TV that streamed a live feed from the spacecrafts' cameras for days on end) simultaneously for the first time.

I'll never forget that night 25 years ago when we gathered, together with the key Voyager imaging people, around the TV screens at JPL on which the raw close-ups of Neptune's moon Triton came in - and the scientists were just as baffled as the bystanders. This was cutting-edge space science as an experience, shared with the world.

It just cannot be right - especially given all the means of instant communication existing today - that we are moving back into the occasional-picture-handout style of space communications of the 1960s where everything is vetted and choreographed and feels remote. This is our mission, too: let us be part of it. Please reconsider!

Daniel Fischer