Thirty Meter Telescope’s website victim of cyberattack

27 Apr 2015

Less than a month after construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes began, the website of the Thirty Meter Telecope (TMT) in Hawaii has been taken down by an Anonymous cyberattack.

Based near the summit of Mauna Kea on one of Hawaii’s largest islands, the futuristic telescope is still currently under construction, with plans to begin operations in 2022. It has received significant backing from governmental bodies to make it one of the most powerful Earth-based telescopes for use by astronomers.

However, construction has now been placed on hold after significant protest against its construction by Hawaii natives reached new heights this week after hundreds took to the streets due to what they see as construction on sacred ground.

According to native Hawaiian tradition, Mauna Kea was the birthplace of the Hawaiian Islands, where the earth mother and sky father met, resulting in its creation.

Protests have been occurring since construction started at the beginning of April and, according to CBC News in Canada, an organisation called Operation Green Rights (affiliated with Anonymous), is claiming responsibility for the take down of the TMT’s website, simply saying: “Nothing will ever justify the destruction of ecosystems; filthy money can never replace them. Stand with the Hawaiian natives against #TMT.”

The cyberattack was later confirmed by the TMT’s spokesperson, Sandra Dawson: “TMT today was the victim of an unscrupulous denial of service attack, apparently launched by Anonymous. The incident is being investigated.”

Costing an estimated US$1.5bn, the Mauna Kea site was chosen for the TMT as, ironically, it was believed to be the best place to reduce the visual and cultural impact of a large telescope.

Mauna Kea peak image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic