Back in July, we noted the opening of Mars Journal, a NASA-funded open access scholarly journal focusing on the science, technology and policy issues related to Mars exploration. The first two items are now up: editor David Paige outlines the rationale behind the new journal; and planetologist Kenneth Edgett writes about data acquired from the Mars Observer and Mars Global Surveyor satellites regarding the Sinus Meridiani region. (Click here for a high-resolution image of the region in question.) Edgett's article includes seven images heretofore never released to the public.
Open access is a powerful scientific tool because it makes information available to those who previously could not easily see it. The leapfrog benefits are obvious in the case of open access biotech or medical research, but also accrue to subjects as esoteric as Mars research. The fascination with worlds other than our own is not limited to the industrialized countries; Brazil, Kenya or Pakistan may not soon have their own Mars programs, but it's entirely possible that the Mars Journal will serve as an inspiration to a new generation of developing world scientists.