An observatory in New Mexico has been due to an unnamed "security issue," prompting evacuations and a visit from the FBI. The Sunspot Observatory is now currently closed to both staff and the public, with no word on why or when it will be open again.
“We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure,” said spokesperson Shari Lifson to the . “The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time.”
Lifson said that the facility was first evacuated on September 6 and has remained closed since then. According to Lifson, the observatory has no date for reopening yet.
As part of the investigation into the security issue, the observatory has ed the FBI, which has been reported on the scene with multiple agents and a Blackhawk helicopter. According to local sheriff Benny House, the agency has been working with local law enforcement but refuses to share any details.
“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” said House. “We’ve got people up there that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why.”
The sheriff speculated that the evacuation could be due to some kind of threat made against the facility or its staff, but expressed confusion as to why local police would be left out of the loop. “If that’s the case, why didn’t they call us and let us deal with it?” he said. “I don’t know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything.”
Another possibility could be some sort of hazardous chemical leak or other natural danger, but again there’s no reason for the FBI to keep everyone in the dark. Whatever the reason, the scientists are forced to postpone their research while the FBI’s investigation continues.