At the request of both the Hubble Space Telescope Users Committee (STUC) and the JWST Users Committee (JSTUC), the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is soliciting the community's interests and concerns related to data access policies.
NASA, and US science as a whole, are moving toward a more open-access stance. In August 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) updated U.S. policy guidance to make the results of taxpayer-supported research immediately available to the American public at no cost, with the expectation that all agencies, including NASA, will have updated their public access policies fully implemented by the end of 2025. This change in US national policy comes shortly after recent changes in NASA's Science Information Policy (SPD-41) which now states, “There shall be no period of exclusive access to Mission data. A period after the data have been obtained may be allowed for activities such as calibration and validation of the data. This period shall be as short as practical and shall not exceed six months.” In general, the Exclusive Access Period discussion in SPD-41 refers to future missions, and there is currently no request from NASA to change data access policies for Hubble or JWST. This community survey has been recommended by our Users Committees, in keeping with good practice of continual assessment of mission policies and their impact on science return and mission inclusivity.
Historically, Hubble and JWST science policy regarding exclusive data access has been a balancing act between both the needs of and the benefits to the full community. For Hubble, since
Cycle 21 (starting 2013), Large (currently defined as ≥ 75 orbits) programs have had a default of zero exclusive access period; the data from Treasury programs have been immediately publicly available since Treasury programs were introduced in 2001 (Cycle 11). Since Cycle 25 (starting 2017), the default exclusive access period (EAP) has been six
months for Small (≤ 34 orbits) and Medium (35 - 74 orbits) programs, down from 12 months previously. Midcycle programs have always had a default of three months EAP. All data taken with Director's Discretionary Time (DDT) is immediately publicly available. These policies will remain in place for the upcoming Cycle 31.
For JWST, all GTO (Guaranteed Time Observer), Small (≤ 25 hours), and Medium (26 - 75 hours) programs in Cycles 1 and 2 have a default exclusive access period of 12 months. Large programs (≥ 76 hours) have default of zero EAP. As with Hubble, all data taken with Director's Discretionary Time (DDT) has no exclusive access period, including all data from the Director's Discretionary Early Release Science (DD-ERS) programs.
For both Hubble and JWST, the Exclusive Access Period is given per dataset
, not per program
. A "dataset" is all of the data taken within a single visit (as defined in the Phase 2 file), and thus may not be all of the data a program takes for a given target. This means that if it takes 9 months to obtain the data for a full small or medium Hubble program, then the earlier data will already be public when the last data are taken. Full documentation for Hubble and JWST can be found at https://hst-docs.stsci.edu and https://jwst-docs.stsci.edu/, respectively.
Many of NASA's observatories (e.g., Swift, TESS) have no exclusive data access period. We note that all data taken with the upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will immediately be open access, i.e., have no exclusive access period.
This survey consists of five sections:
1. demographic information to ensure voices from across the astronomical community are represented and heard,
2. past experience with accessing or analyzing data either with or without exclusive access periods,
3. anticipated possible impacts of eliminating the exclusive access period for Hubble and/or JWST data,
4. possible implementation strategies for handling requests for exclusive access if Hubble and/or JWST move to a default of zero exclusive data access, and
5. space for open-ended feedback on the broad topic of open access to Hubble and JWST data.
We expect sections 1-4 to take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. This survey will be open until Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Please share it!