Observatory-compliant when this is cost-effective. Astronomical librarians and data archivists should be involved in metadata design and curation. While NASA has an established policy whereby archiving and public access are required and costs are included in mission budgets, NSF has no consistent policy. Financial support made available under agency peer-review processes would enable existing observatories to implement such archives. DOE has a culture that supports modern data handling and prudent selection of which data to archive. It does not have a culture of public access but has adapted well to such practice in its collaborations with astrophysicists.
RECOMMENDATION: Proposals for new major ground-based facilities and instruments with significant federal funding should be required as a matter of agency policy to include a plan and if necessary a budget for ensuring appropriate data acquisition, processing, archiving, and public access after a suitable proprietary period.
To be practical and cost-effective, this requirement should be limited to data that are reasonably likely to be of interest to other users, for example large survey programs and other significant principal-investigator-led efforts in optical-infrared and radio astronomy. The committee further concluded that public funds could support public archiving of data from facilities that are fully funded from private sources, should such support be proposed and highly reviewed. Proposals to NSF’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants program or to the ATI program could include support for the development of software tools related to data reduction and analysis, and archiving.
Because data archives are so central to modern astronomy, it is a matter of concern that no model exists for long-term preservation (curation) of ground-based data once observing projects or facilities are no longer funded.10 To realize the full benefit of ground-based data, especially from surveys, it is therefore necessary for NSF to adopt the model of NASA’s long-lived data archive centers (like IPAC, MAST, HEASARC) and also of the Canadian Astronomy Data Center for long-term curation of data, with capabilities similar to those available through existing successful archives.
A coordinated interagency effort will be particularly important with the advent of the petabyte-scale surveys anticipated in the future. An example of an opportunity for possible synergy in combining ground-based and space data is solar physics. The rapidly growing database from existing facilities including the Solar Dynamics Observatory presents an opportunity to combine complementary data sets in order to obtain a balanced view of the dynamic Sun. This investment