What prompted the observatory's closure ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Samat K Jain
The facility, which was mysteriously closed by the FBI this month, is set to resume normal operations.
In a statement on Sunday, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) said:"We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.""In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th."
The association also outlined plans to deploy a temporary security team for the reopening:"Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment."
To date, all we know about the reason for the closure is that it involved some sort of "security issue" and a "law enforcement investigation of criminal activity."
Given the lack of specifics, the closure has prompted a wave of conspiracy theories online with social media users speculating that the observatory may have found evidence of extraterrestrial life.
According to Sunspot Solar Observatory Director and New Mexico State University astronomy professor R.T. James McAteer however, the truth is likely to be a lot more mundane.
"[The] telescope did not see aliens," he said, but added that "all data will be made public in its unaltered form, nothing is hidden or kept secret."
Perhaps, in time, the truth of what went down at the observatory will come out.
In the meantime, all we can do is speculate.
Source: Business Insider | Comments (117)