View Full Version : H2O found on moon but twitter steals NASA thunder

tony hipchest
09-25-2009, 04:48 PM
so evidence of water has finally been dicovered on the moon (pretty much the most groundbreaking moon news since man stepped foot on it) and NASA was going to hold a huge news conference so that over 2000 jounalists could all report it at once....

...until it was leaked on twitter. :chuckle:


Leaking moon water is all Twitter's fault

There's water on the moon. As reported by The Times, us, io9 and The Mail amongst others.

But you might be wondering why it's the The Times' Delhi Reporter who got the scoop and not their Science Correspondent? And why the Times posted this story last night and other organisations (including the BBC) seem to have been taken by surprise and didn't have anything online till this morning?

Well in reality most science journalists have known about this story for a few days now. But the story had been embargoed by Science, the journal publishing the research. So anyone publishing the story ahead of time would be punished. If all went to plan this research would suddenly emerge via a big Nasa press conference. Every news outlet around the world would report this amazing new discovery at the same time.

In fact the last few days have been a behind-the-scenes battle between established media and the internet. With journalists from the mass media knowing all about the story and being unable to say anything. While bloggers and twitterers do everything they can to find out what is going on. In fact as Birmingham science journalist David Whitehouse explained to me you can blame most of this on Twitter;

Space stories in particular seem to be prone to this. You have a very active blogosphere and Twitter has made it even worse. It's fabulous for sharing gossip but it's also made life hell for this sort of thing.

Here's what happened. On Monday Science sends a tip-sheet out to some 2000 journalists alerting them to the moon water story and telling them it will all be announced at a big Nasa press conference on Thursday.

nasafinal.jpgNasa then sends out another embargoed announcement with a "cast list" of scientists attending the press conference. And once the blogosphere got hold of that it doesn't take long to work out what the scientist have been researching and what the big announcement is.

So now you have thousands of science journalists who know what's going on but can't say anything and thousands of bloggers who don't know what's going on but want to find out.

Then the other parts of the mainstream media start to report the rumours about moon water.

Which is how the story finally emerges in the mainstream press in India, where interest is high because India's Chandrayaan probe is partly responsible for this data. This is then picked up by the Times' Delhi correspondent and makes the top of their website as an exclusive.

Eventually the journal Science sees the cat is out of the bag, drop the embargo at 22.57 our time last night and all the British science journalists who've obeyed the embargo wake up to find they've missed one of the biggest days for the moon since we walked on it.

more links of actual news releases article.

:thumbsup: very cool. lets go!

09-26-2009, 12:28 AM
Hmmm, I thought water was detected on the moon by our last lunar satellite a few years ago? Or is this from the same data, since deciphering data from space probes is a fairly lengthy process. I mean, NASA is STILL pouring over data from the Voyager missions, and one of them is going to reach the heliopause (the region where the Sun's influence ends and you cross into interstellar space) within the next 25 years or so.

tony hipchest
09-26-2009, 01:22 AM
you seem to be the expert. you tell me. :noidea:



09-26-2009, 10:27 AM
you seem to be the expert. you tell me. :noidea:



First of all, I'm no expert. Secondly, this mission apparently was a follow-up mission to confirm water on the moon - Clementine was the first to detect it in the mid-90s, then Lunar Prospector in the late 90s. So now it's been confirmed, which means we can take the next step and put bases on the moon.