Kathryn Sullivan, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator:

The big data revolution could lead to currently unimagined uses for the data we receive from satellites. Entrepreneurs could come up with new applications and ideas for mashing up data. But the data itself should, I believe, be regarded as a public good. How to guarantee this, in a world where public budgets are squeezed and space exploration is becoming increasingly affordable for private players, is a question that deserves serious thought and active engagement.

I certainly agree that data is a public good, and unrestricted access to data is important to fuel new discoveries and put it to new valuable uses.

Sullivan brings up a good question about the balance between government and private-funded satellite programs (or access to space in general). The private sector is certainly contributing to exploring space and the earth, which is good for the short term, but will it also serve us in the long term?

SpaceX is resupplying the International Space Station (ISS) and Planet Labs has raised well over $100 million in order to take high-resolution (5 meters or less) images of the entire globe.