The ALMA observatory has resumed operations

48 days after the hacker attack, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope complex has resumed operation. This is stated in a message published on the website of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
Antennas of the ALMA radio telescope complex. Source: ESO/B. Tafreshi

The cyber attack on ALMA took place on October 29. The employees quickly isolated the systems responsible for the operation of the antennas of the complex, as well as the scientific archive, which stores the data collected during the observations. However, communication systems and other work clusters were affected. Because of this, the observatory management had to suspend all observations, as well as the use of the telescope website and internal e-mail.

To get the observatory back up and running as soon as possible, ALMA’s management has developed a plan that involves the participation of partner organizations around the world. These included ESO, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Thanks to active cooperation, specialists managed to gradually restore the operation of all ALMA computers and servers that were attacked. This made it possible to restore the normal functioning of internal systems and e-mail, which, in turn, made it possible to resume observations.

According to the observatory’s leaders, the main focus in the coming weeks will be on restoring infrastructure and systems like the ALMA site, which will resume all functions that existed before the hacker attack. It is so far unknown, who exactly organized the attack.

Previously, we talked about how the ALMA complex helped to study Jupiter.