In the field stories

Data recovery of astronomical proportions

The collapse of the famous Arecibo Observatory Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico on December 1, 2020, was a great loss for science. Still, things could have been a lot worse had it not been for a large-scale data recovery effort.

The collapse of the 57-year-old scientific instrument did not happen entirely out of nowhere. For some time signs of fatigue in the main suspension cables had been apparent, and a large-scale initiative was planned to safe-guard several petabytes of data collected by the telescope and stored locally at the Arecibo Observatory data center.

The recovery operation brought together experts from many organisations, including the University of Central Florida, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Chicago, and the ESnet/Indiana University’s Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC) collaboration. ESnet is the US Department of Energy’s dedicated science network, and others.

Submitted by Jane Gifford

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