R. Arvidson and S. Slavney
Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University
St. Louis, MO 63130


Rev. 2.0

March 13, 1998

Table of Contents

  1. 1.Introduction
    1. 1.1.Purpose
    2. 1.2.Scope
    3. 1.3.Applicable Documents and Constraints
    4. 1.4.Objective
  2. 2.Public Information Release and Interaction Policies
  3. 3.Roles and Responsibilities
    1. 3.1.Mars Surveyor Operations Project
    2. 3.2.Project Science Group and Public Information Subgroup
    3. 3.3.Science Team Home Institutions
    4. 3.4.Public Information Office
  4. 4.Specific Public Information Release and Interaction Plans
    1. 4.1.PISG Activities
    2. 4.2.Schedule of Events
  5. 5.Acronyms

1. Introduction

1.1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to delineate an implementation plan for interactions between the Mars Global Surveyor Mission science teams and the public and press.

1.2. Scope

The scope includes: (a) release of data sets and information designed for use by the public and press, (b) press conferences, (c) definitions of roles and responsibilities, and (d) mechanisms to coordinate the releases and activities.

1.3. Applicable Documents and Constraints

Mars Global Surveyor Project Science Data Management Plan, MGS #542-310, May 1995.

Mars Global Surveyor Project Archive Generation, Validation, and Transfer Plan, MGS #542-312, Rev. B, July 3, 1997

1.4. Objective

The objective of this plan is to establish a process for periodic and frequent release of science findings in order to sustain public interest in the Mission.

2. Public Information Release and Interaction Policies

Public information release includes press conferences and written material concerning both mission operations and scientific analyses. The following are specific policy statements for Public Information Release for the Mars Global Surveyor Project.

  1. Information concerning spacecraft and instrument anomalies may only be released by the mission's Project Office, in coordination with NASA Headquarters, Principal Investigators, and Team Leaders.

  2. Information concerning "significant" scientific results may be released during press conferences, press releases organized by the mission's Project Office and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Public Information Office, and on the World Wide Web, in coordination with NASA Headquarters and relevant members of the mission's science teams.

  3. Information concerning scientific results from a given instrument may also be released by the Principal Investigator or Team Leader for the instrument. For example, such releases may be organized by the home institution of the Principal Investigator or Team Leader. These releases can be in any medium, but "significant" results must have prior coordination through the JPL Project Office and NASA headquarters.

  4. Before data is deposited in the Planetary Data System, information concerning scientific results from a given study may be released by an Interdisciplinary Scientist, Participating Scientist, Co-Investigator, or Team Member only with the concurrence of the Principal Investigator whose instrument data are used.

  5. In cases II through IV the mission's Project Office must receive, in advance of the release, a copy of the release material (e.g., images, spectra, captions, summary of results), a schedule for the release, and a statement of the mechanisms for release. The intent is not to require concurrence for the release, but only to make sure that the Project Office, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Public Information Office, and NASA Headquarters are informed of the releases before they happen.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

3.1. Mars Surveyor Operations Project

The Project has the overall responsibility for ensuring that the policies and implementation plans concerning release of information and interactions with the public and press are followed. The Project also is responsible for primary interactions with NASA Headquarters, including ensuring that Headquarters personnel are aware of activities discussed in this document before they occur, together with focusing feedback from Headquarters back to the appropriate parties. The Project has the responsibility for primary interactions with the JPL Public Information Office (PIO), serving as coordinating entity for media relations focused at JPL.

3.2. Project Science Group and Public Information Subgroup

The MGS Project Scientist has overall responsibility for ensuring that science findings are made available to the media. The Public Information Subgroup (PISG) of the Project Science Group (PSG), through its chair, is the point of contact to the MGS Project for coordinating public release and media interactions involving science. The PISG consists of representatives from each instrument team and is chaired by an Interdisciplinary Scientist (IDS).

The PISG maintains a schedule of public information events, which is made available to the Project, the PIO, and instrument teams via a restricted-access web site. The PISG reports on public information and press plans at PSG meetings and MSOP Quarterly Reviews. The PISG Chair also coordinates with a designated PIO contact on a regular basis so that the PIO is able to keep abreast of science developments that could merit releases of one kind or another.

Specifically, the responsibilities of the PISG include the following.

3.3. Science Team Home Institutions

Principal Investigators (PIs) and Team Leaders (TLs) control release of their own data from their own home institutions, under the policies defined in Section 3 of this plan. Co-Investigators (Co-Is) and Team Members (TMs) may be designated by their respective PI or TL to assume data release responsibilities. IDSs may release data with the concurrence of the relevant PI or TL. These releases may also occur from respective home institutions, under the policies delineated in this plan.

3.4. Public Information Office

The JPL Public Information Office is chartered to be the prime point of contact with the public and the media for activities focused at JPL. The overall objective on the public affairs side is to maximize the positive impact of information and image releases from the project. They help organize and implement press releases and press conferences. They facilitate release of data and information meant for consumption by the press and public, including video feeds of interviews. A PIO person is also a liaison member of the PISG.

4. Specific Public Information Release and Interaction Plans

4.1. PISG Activities

The Public Information Subgroup will conduct its business chiefly by teleconference and electronic mail. The PISG Chair will report on the subgroup's activities to the Project Science Group at its meetings every three months and as part of the MSOP Quarterly Reviews.

The PISG will be responsible for creating and maintaining the schedule of science results release. The PIO liaison on the PISG will coordinate the planning of these events with the PIO. The PISG will maintain a restricted-access web site where Project members, instrument team members, and the PIO can view the latest schedule and plans for information releases.

4.2. Schedule of Events

MGS public information release and interaction will be closely tied to mission activities as shown in Figure 1.

Regular monthly press releases will be theme-based. They may consist of televised presentations from instrument teams, or written press releases, or press conferences at JPL. Themes may relate to data from more than one instrument. Examples of themes might be dynamics of the atmosphere, discovery of carbonate rocks and implications with regard to paleoclimate, the dynamics of the interior, and the magnetic field dynamics through space and time. These monthly events may rotate among PI home institutions. They may coincide with JPL press conferences to be held every three months during the mapping phase of the mission.

Additional events may be scheduled as needed, for example when new data are released or major discoveries are made. These additional information releases may occur more frequently than once a month, and may take the form of text news releases, public web site offerings of images and other data, televised presentations or panel discussions, and interviews with instrument team members (see Table 1).

Finally, major press conferences will be held every six months, coinciding with the spring and fall AGU meetings. The first will occur at the Spring 1998 AGU meeting in June, when the science phasing orbit phase is underway and significant science data are being collected. The second major press conference will occur in December 1998 as the final aerobraking phase begins. The third event will occur in June 1999, shortly after regular mapping has begun. Additional major events will be scheduled at six-month intervals.

5. Acronyms

AGU           American Geophysical Union                                          
Co-I          Co-Investigator                                                     
DSN           Deep Space Network                                                  
IDS           Interdisciplinary Scientist                                         
JPL           Jet Propulsion Laboratory                                           
MAG/ER        Magnetometer / Electron Reflectometer                               
MGS           Mars Global Surveyor                                                
MOC           Mars Orbiter Camera                                                 
MOLA          Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter                                        
MSOP          Mars Surveyor Operations Project                                    
NASA          National Aeronautic and Space Administration                        
PI            Principal Investigator                                              
PISG          Public Information Committee Subgroup                               
PSG           Project Science Group                                               
RSS           Radio Science Subsystem                                             
TES           Thermal Emission Spectrometer                                       
TL            Team Leader                                                         
TM            Team Member