05:38 GMT21 October 2020
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    The shutdown by the FBI of the Solar Observatory educational facility in New Mexico has generated speculation as to what is behind the sudden intrusion of a federal law-enforcement agency into the daily routine of astronomers. Media reports refute an X-Files-style plot with extraterrestrials, leading to a more prosaic, but no less fascinating tale.

    According to the Daily Express, the Sunspot Solar Observatory, a part of the National Solar Observatory network maintained by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), was likely hacked by a foreign agent to monitor US military activity in New Mexico.

    In particular, UK-based media offer a theory that an intruder or agent affiliated with a foreign country gained access to one of the Observatory's antennas where a spying device was installed.

    The media outlet suggested that this theory was not far from the truth and explained the rapid FBI operation that locked down and evacuated observatory staffers, along with the entire compound surrounding the scientific facility.

    The Sunspot Solar Observatory is near the US Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range, also located in New Mexico. These US Army facilities are among the most secretive military installations in America. White Sands has reportedly been used to test newly-developed weapons and is notorious as the world's first testing ground for the atomic bomb.

    However, the official US line given was as 'security reasons,' but local law enforcement as well as observatory staffers still have no idea what is really going on in Sunspot.

    READ MORE Aliens Unlikely to Be Cause of Mysterious New Mexico Observatory Shutdown

    “We've got people up there that requested us to stand by while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why […] the FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say. But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there […] there was a Black Hawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything, " Otero County Sheriff Benny House told local newspaper Alamogordo Daily News.

    The observatory is also just a two-hour drive from the notorious town of Roswell, New Mexico. Its location has earlier sparked rumors on social media alleging that local astronomers spotted an alien craft or massive artificial object near the Sun, prompting US authorities to keep the information under wraps. 

    Roswell is the site of a famous 1947 UFO sighting which the US Air Force later asserted were simply top-secret high-altitude weather balloons.


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    observatory, evacuation, UFO, aliens, investigation, military, White Sands Missile Range, US Holloman Air Force Base, Sunspot National Solar Observatory, FBI, Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Sunspot, New Mexico, United States
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