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Keck Honored by NASA for Public Archive

Posted December 10, 2015, 05:04 PM HST
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Photo credit: Andrew Richard Hara/Ena Media Hawai’i.

NASA has awarded the 2015 NASA Group Achievement Award to W.M. Keck Observatory for its efforts in pioneering the Keck Observatory Archive. The archive has increased the impact of Keck Observatory Data.

Keck Observatory Chief Scientist Dr. Anne Kinney received the award on Tuesday at NASA headquarters.

“For the past 10 years, the NASA KOA team has boosted the science value of data acquired at Keck Observatory by providing the scientific community with open access to WMKO data,” said Mario Perez, Keck Observatory Program Executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “They helped set a standard that all new ground based observatories are adopting. For this, the NASA KOA team has earned the NASA Group Achievement Award.”

NASA established a partnership with WMKO in 2004 to acquire a large amount of data from a single instrument, the High Resolution Spectrograph, for NASA science purposes.

Although it’s standard practice to make data from NASA’s space telescope available to the world in a public archive, in 2004, it was unheard of that the same could be done with data from a ground-based telescope. Kinney, who was the Director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters at the time, began the project of promoting public access to the data.

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“We are very proud of this award as well as the KOA project itself,” said Hilton Lewis, Director of W. M. Keck Observatory. “This was the brainchild of Anne Kinney while she was at NASA and who I am happy to report recently joined Keck Observatory as our Chief Scientist. Thanks to her vision, data gathered by all instruments at Keck Observatory is available for everyone to use.”

Kinney signed the KOA agreement in May 2005 with her counterparts at other institutions governing Keck Observatory. Immediately following, KOA expanded to archive all HIRES data and not just NASA-acquired HIRES data.

The establishment of a permanent public archive of ground-based data as a standard practice has been a model to other observatories to increase science productivity by doing the same, according to Keck officials.

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