ALMA Observatory resumes its activities after a cyber attack

ALMA Observatory resumes its activities after a cyber attack

The observatory announced on Wednesday that the ALMA space telescope located in the Chilean Andes has resumed its activities, nearly two months after a cyberattack halted cosmic exploration activities.

“Resuming scientific observations was our top priority after the attack,” said Sean Dougherty, ALMA Director.

The October 29 attack on ALMA computer systems affected many servers and critical operational computers, the observatory said in a statement posted on Wednesday on a temporary website. It was forced to suspend astronomical observations, restrict messaging services and scrap its website. The incident is under investigation by the Chilean police.

Mr. Dougherty explained that all of the observatory’s critical systems, such as telescope control, archives, and data processor, were tested repeatedly before observations resumed. He noted that “after restoring the computer systems, it took an enormous amount of work to get the full tests done”.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world’s most powerful telescope for observing molecular gases and dust, studies the building blocks of stars, planetary systems, galaxies and life itself.

It has 66 antennas, it is located at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters above sea level, on the Chagnantor Plateau, in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on the planet.

The complex, which began exploring the universe in 2011, teamed up last April to discover the most distant candidate galaxy ever discovered, located 13.5 billion light-years away.

ALMA employs about 300 experts, including 40 engineers and computer technicians responsible for powerful computers, servers, data storage systems, and displays.

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