Since 1889, the Harvard College Observatory in Boston has been gathering glass photographic plates of our atmosphere. Today, the collection consists of more than half a million images. That is 25 percent of all the astronomical photographic plates existing in the world. In January 2016, disaster hit! A water leak from a pipe caused major flooding in the facility where the precious plates were stored, affecting the entire glass database – all 165 tons of it. There was no back-up, so humanity’s only record of a century’s worth of sky was at stake. Harvard’s gut reaction was to try and manage the restoration on its own. But after going through a few boxes of plates they realised they needed professional help.