One of the world’s largest telescopes becomes target of cyber criminals affecting the observatory operations

Following a hack, one of the biggest and most sophisticated telescopes in the world had to halt operations.

A attack on its computer systems this weekend led the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, to halt activities and lock down its website. Due to the fact that low frequency waves are better received at high elevations and in dry climates, which is crucial for precise observations, ALMA’s position in the Chajnantor Plateau in northern Chile offers a significant advantage.

The European Southern Observatory, is one of the many worldwide scientific institutions that collaborate with the observatory. Additionally, it is a component of the worldwide Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) network, which in 2019 produced the first-ever photograph of a black hole.

Last year, ALMA discovered what it thought was the first moon-forming disc around a planet outside of our solar system in “exquisite resolution.”

Earlier this year, ALMA also contributed to the release of the first-ever image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The observatory’s 66 radio telescopes, which are used to research the creation of stars and planets, also offer “limited” email capabilities.
For space researchers throughout the world who rely on the telescope and ALMA expertise, the event may be a serious inconvenience. It is currently impossible to predict when one will be able to resume normal activities due to the nature of the incident.

“The attack has been neutralized, and our experts are putting forth a lot of effort to repair impacted systems. The observatory announced this week that the incident did not harm the ALMA antennas or any scientific data.