Is data produced by the European Space Agency covered by any such thing as the Freedom of Information Act like in the United States?

That is, are data produced by ESA programs freely available much like they are for NASA programs?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ESA is not a national space agency but a conglomerate of many of them, most of the ones on the continent of Europe and including Canada and Israel. So I don't know what (or whose) FoIA analog you're looking for when we're talking of ESA. Many could apply, depends on which nations (and often also privately held entities) are involved with a specific mission and whose IP or other interests need protecting and for how long - i.e. by the so-called proprietary period, and when their data products will be made publicly available. blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/07/16/access-to-rosetta-data $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Nov 12, 2014 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, FoIA does not necessarily mean that data products from NASA (or NOAA) missions will be made publicly available ASAP. All it does is that it ensures that at some point in time they will be, provided of course they're not further classified and contain information unsuitable for public consumption (many high resolution Earth-observation data products would fall in that category). Also check en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_information_laws_by_country the concept of Freedom of Information Laws isn't specific to US and some other countries implemented them hundreds of years before. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Nov 12, 2014 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ Example: Rosetta data disclosure $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jan 14, 2015 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ FOIA, Schmoia - it's not relevant when entire data archives are pulled offline and then decimated (aka NTRS and the Big Red Scare). $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2015 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


The European Space Agency (ESA) is subject to the Regulations of the European Space Agency. One of these documents is ESA/REG/008 - Rules on Information, Data and Intellectual Property, the goal of which is stated as follows:

The Rules on Information, Data and Intellectual Property, as adopted by Council on 19 December 2001 under the reference ESA/C/CLV/Rules 5 (Final), are designed to promote access to information and data and to cover the use of Intellectual Property resulting from Agency's activities, while fully taking into account the provisions of the Convention and the interests of the Member States and of persons and bodies under their jurisdiction.

Chapter II, Section II, subpoint 1a states:

Access and use to be reserved by the Agency

Information, Data and Intellectual Property resulting from work performed under an Agency contract shall be available to the Agency and Participating States, including Persons and Bodies under their Jurisdiction, free of charge, for the Agency’s Own Requirements in the field of space research and technology and their space applications.

The 24 page document goes on to further detail the exact regulation of release of information, so I would highly recommend reading it if you wish to know more specific rules.



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