AURA FINALLY RELEASES A STATEMENT ABOUT THE OBSERVATORY CLOSING

Normally, I would post this article for Wednesday, but I have decided to post it today, as there has been a new development in the Sunspot observatory story.

AURA, the entity that runs the Richard Dunn solar observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, has finally released a statement about the whole affair, and since I blogged Monday about this story, I'd be remiss not to pass along the statement and my thoughts about it.

Needless to say, the statement manages to use many words and to convey more or less nothing, so we're in more or less the same position we were before, except that there are additional details that put yet another twist into the whole affair. Here is AURA's statement "explaining" the whole episode:

AURA Statement about the Status of the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico

On September 6th, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue. The facility closed down in an orderly fashion and is now re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week.

AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak. During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.

The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety.

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. 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. (Emphasis added)

Note the following things:

1) The staff was evacuated due to "a security issue", which is more or less the story we heard at the outset. But then this is added:

2) There is an "on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak," which "criminal activity" is not specified, but whatever it was "posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents." Apparently, the threat was so extreme that everyone had to be evacuated, leaving their cars, their houses, and the entire facility, unattended for several days, to the extent that people could go into the site and videotape it, as I mentioned in my blog last Monday.

At this juncture, the explanation becomes, frankly, a bit bizarre:

3) AURA maintains that their decision to vacate the facility "was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location." Ok, I can buy that, but how then does one explain the final paragraph:

4) AURA states that "in light of recent developments in the investigation", of which developments we told precisely nothing, that there are now no risks to the staff, so they will be returning to normal work this week. But on top of this, we are informed that because of "the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site" AURA will be temporarily engaging a security service while things "return to a normal working environment."

Now, all of this makes no sense to me, because for one thing, during the initial evacuation, both local law enforcement and the FBI were apparently involved. If they were involved, then that means it may have been possible for one or the other or both to maintain security on the site, allowing staff to continue to work. To my mind, it would not have been that difficult for the local sherrif and/or New Mexico state police to maintain at least a token presence on the site, if nothing else to keep out the curious (which becomes a factor in a moment). Yet, the threat was apparently so big that even this was not judged to be sufficient for the safety of the staff, hence the evacuation. But then, we are told that because of the expected influx of tourists (presumably), temporary security has now been engaged. What is noteworthy here is that the motivation of protecting the staff has been dropped from the explanation; the reason given for the hire of temporary security is precisely the influx of sight-seers, such as the gentleman and his son who entered the completely evacuated site, to take the video I referenced on Monday. In other words, this sounds more like they are concerned with what people might see or learn, rather than protecting the staff itself.

So AURA's explanation raises as many questions as it "answers." In fact, it answers nothing.

All of this suggests to me that my initial intuitive hypothesis that the observatory may have been used to piggy-back communications. But if so, how did that constitute a threat to the safety of the staff? Did someone on the staff discover this? Or is the piggy-backed communications hypothesis simply not true, and something else is involved? What sort of "criminal activity" may have been going on? What is interesting here is that on the occasion of the evacuation, one national radio talk show host (Glen Beck) broadcast earlier today that the staff of the facility had called local law enforcement, asking them to come to the facility when the FBI suddenly showed up. If true, then that would seem to indicate that some of the staff felt as threatened by the presence of the FBI, as from whatever other threat may have existed there. The Kansas City Star posted this story:

No aliens? Mysterious FBI closing of Sunspot solar observatory is finally explained

Note the statements from AURA here dovetail with that of AURA itself. There's this:

According to the newspaper, Benny House, the sheriff of Otero County, said the FBI was involved in what he described as an elaborate shutdown process and said “the FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on.”

“There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers, but nobody would tell us anything,” House told the Daily News.

He told the Albuquerque Journal his department got a call from “folks that work at the laboratory” who asked “if we could send a deputy to stand by while they were evacuating. All the employees were packing up and leaving.”

...
Now, weigh that against this statement from AURA later in the article:

“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,” said the statement.

Now, as Mr. Beck pointed out in his broadcast earlier today (indeed, I am listening even as I'm composing this blog), this makes no sense, because we're being asked to believed that the "suspect" in the "on-going criminal investigation" would be alerted with the spread of the news of the evacuation. But wait a minute, isn't the presence of a blackhawk helicopter sort of difficult to hide and therefore "alerting the suspect"?
All of this leads me back to my "piggy-backed communications" hypothesis, and to a potential espionage caper.
And there's something else to take note of: have you noticed that throughout this developing story, the closure of the post office has curiously dropped off the radar? Granted, the post office is more or less on site, but I find it curious that no mention is made of it. My suspicion remains focused more on the piggy-backed communications hypothesis than the espionage hypothesis, though with the presence of White Sands within the line of sight of the observatory, the latter cannot be ruled out either.
That's it for the moment, folks, and remember, please view this story as tomorrow's (i.e., Wednesday's) blog, unless more breaking news occurs that will require another update tomorrow.
See you on the flip side...

26 thoughts on “AURA FINALLY RELEASES A STATEMENT ABOUT THE OBSERVATORY CLOSING”

  1. holloman and white sands nearby sound most interesting aspects of this. crazy enough the whole thing could have been done to make one or a group of those govmint workers on site intimidated into doing some other op they previously didn’t really wanna get into. considering it’s probably a federal site, kinda surprised the local leo even showed up. one would think they’d have required site security approval to enter the site.

  2. it is not a crime for law enforcement to lie to their suspects. how hard is it to make someone a suspect. it’s not lying to the public when leo’s to talk about a suspect in these terms. it gets dicey when one leo lies to another leo. it is illegal to lie to an leo.

    but it takes either a viral youtube video or the second leo determined to prosecute the first leo along with some other evidence. both are usually unlikely (if the second leo knows what’s good for him and the leo’s onsite take everyone’s phones from them). remember the aurora theater shooting? first thing the first responders did was take all victim phones.

    and the workers on site? anyone ever know any phd students on these sites? sure they work for universities all over the planet and most of the time for nasa or doe. about 2/3 are from out of country. they’re all used to the craziest hoops in their lives to jump through for security. and they’re all treated like slaves. until they get that phd of course. and most know that they really work for darpa.

  3. What a three ring circus the fibbers are proving themselves to be, apparently accountable to no one, having coached NASA that their acronym denotes ” never a straight answer.”

    I am reminded of the gun firing, back flipping, dancing Ephraim Zimblist Jr. wannabe of a few months ago. Was he in charge of this op? I am pretty sure it wasn’t John Walker, who was detected after 30 years of being a paid spy for China.

    It is a crime to lie to elements of the guvmint, but not the reverse. Wassup with that y’all?

    Oh well, this post will probably get me one another watch list (prepare to be bored).

  4. There was no problem with other Solar Observatories and they were operating as usual. So the only problem was with the observatory at Sacremento Peak

    ‘A suspect’ , one person caused this incident. I don’t know how big an area is being covered here that one person could be such a threat to the staff and the surrounding residential community. Simple espionage doesn’t fit this scenario.

  5. TDRS? So what…

    The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system currently supports about 40 NASA space missions as well as most earth observation satellites such as Landsat and Aqua. It also supports the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

    https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/97440main_TDRS_fs_9.18.pdf
    https://youtu.be/-gQN6ZfWaQc

    If the TDRS system goes down our eyes in space go dark and the ISS astronauts can’t communicate with earth. Unless they use their Ham radio gear.

    What is really interesting is that the SPTR or South Pole TDRSS Relay system that allows high speed data comms to and from Antarctica is also carried on the TDRS system.

    http://www.southpolestation.com/9798/review.pdf

    Listening in on Antarctic communications would be of great interest to certain powerful stateless industrialist groups. Being able to jam those communications could also serve their interests.

    But the ability to intercept and Change the contents of space and Antarctic data traffic in real time might be the most beneficial to those berserkers.

    The Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico provides an optimal location for treachery. Line-of-sight to WSC(White Sands Complex) antennas allowing microwave transmission and reception, unlimited and uninterrupted power, tech equipment everywhere to hide their gear amongst, antennae on tall structures that no one person can account for.

    Cleaned out.

    Did the swamp just drain a bit?

  6. Just a WAG, but maybe they were moved somewhere else because the Fibbies didn’t want them to “see” or “experience” something that was set to occur? Might be interesting to see if anything else similar was happening on any other peaks surrounding Holloman AFB and White Sands. BTW it’s a lot closer to Holloman than White Sands.

  7. Apparently from a friend on FB posted several observatorys were closed around the world….

    This was the headline from the Workd Tribune on September 12th

    Why does FBI care about solar hurricanes? Observatories closed worldwide for unspecified reasons…

    1. Margaret, I’ll re-post what I found-out yesterday:
      I just finished a Sep 12th youtube report by Linda Moulton Howe: “Why did FBI close down Nat’l. Solar Observatory in Sunspot, NM & local Post Office?” At 13 minutes in, LMH said she got an email on the supposed shut-down of other solar observatories, which did not make sense to her. So, she asked her friend and author Peter Levenda to investigate. He found nothing unusual going-on at the listed sites, as well as others around the world. Only at the Sunspot, NM site. So, ‘someone’ is spreading disinfo for whatever motives…

      1. Goshawks, I agree there was no problem with other Solar Observatories and they were operating as usual. So the only problem was with the observatory at Sacremento Peak. The report said ‘a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.

        The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat.’ …….A suspect, one person caused this incident. I don’t know how big an area is being covered here that one person could be such a threat to the staff and the surrounding residential community.

  8. Dr Farrell,

    I believe you will find that the New Mexico Solar Observatory issue pertains to the TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) system which handles multiple missions, classified and un-classified, and has the White Sands Complex as mission control. Multiple microwave frequencies including ~15GHz and ~25GHz bands are in use. Interception of TDRS downlinks would be facilitated by the close proximity to WSC but encryption could be an issue for a non-state adversary. Denial of service by jamming at 25GHz would be hard to spot though. My high octane speculation.

    https://gdmissionsystems.com/satellite-ground-systems/tracking-and-data-relay-satellite-system
    https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/scan/spectrum/txt_NASA_Spectrum_20GHz_to_100GHz.html

    MWLyon

    1. I think you are on to something there. Pentagon audit revealed the possibility that our early warning system might have been compromised. Russia? Probably, but not certain. China is also getting into the space race. db

  9. In my opinion, the AURA report was likely ‘handed’ to them by some Agency and told to issue it. No surprise there. What is interesting is that ‘they’ (FBI or higher) probably felt the need not to overtly Lie, as the details would eventually come out. Overt Lying on an official document could mean their jobs or pension at some future date. So, they told the truth but mealy-mouthed.

    To me, “made the decision to temporarily vacate” means that the FBI stormed in the door off the Blackhawk helicopter and ordered everyone out. They may have gotten the ‘okay’ for the evacuation on the way out the door, for legal and CYA purposes. That “the staff of the facility had called local law enforcement, asking them to come to the facility when the FBI suddenly showed up” indicates that the Blackhawk set down and agents started boiling-out towards their position. I would be scared and want to document what was impending…

    Also, “the threat was so extreme that everyone had to be evacuated, leaving their cars, their houses, and the entire facility, unattended for several days” likely means that the FBI rounded everyone up, ‘detained’ them, and shipped them off to the equivalent of (probably separate) holding cells for interrogation. In turn, this means that the FBI did not have certainty as to how many people were involved. (Or possibly just wanted to get ‘uncontaminated’ details, before people talked to each other…)

    At the end of this, my opinion is that “the residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week” means that the interrogations were finished, everyone was Required to sign a non-disclosure document (under penalty of something ‘unfortunate’ happening to them if they didn’t), and were told to behave as if nothing happened. *cough* Roswell *cough*

    In my mind, the most intriguing thing is the Effort made to hush the event up. If it was simple espionage of some sort, why not just let the info out? The ‘bad guys’ obviously know their operation was raided. There must be some higher reason why ‘going public’ would be impermissible…

    1. I agree with your comments goshawks.
      …….A suspect, one person caused this incident. I don’t know how big an area is being covered here that one person could be such a threat to the staff and the surrounding residential community. Simple espionage doesn’t fit this scenario.

  10. Tabitha Skov, Space WeatherWoman, just sent out an email blast saying this facility is run by students for the most part working on their phd programs. She said there wasn’t anything significant regarding the sun’s weather at the time and called the whole story laughable! I wondered too why the facility was abandoned without leaving a security detail. Could it be that it was being used to piggyback coms as you suggest and someone was found out. Then a meltdown of rumors, fear, and young kids not knowing what to do. It sounds like, too, there is no one in charge there on site and these students are self monitoring. But in the end, no security detail to protect what’s left behind? That’s just bizarre.

  11. What if the question isn’t what happened there? Perhaps the question is why was this site chosen to be vacated temporarily? I agree this story says nothing. This degree of incoherence is designed specifically to confuse the issue–an intentional piece of misdirection. The presence of Glenn Beck in the story only raises my suspicions meter higher. 17 years ago I remember when another two tall buildings were emptied and without power just days before they were launched into the atmosphere as airborne particulates in microscopic form. I’m not suggesting anything as grandiose here–but it makes me wonder if this misdirection is intentionally moving our attention away from White Sands…

  12. As Mr. Bosley mentioned, this theoretically “remote” area is thick with facilities related to the military-research complex. And will now enjoy an increased tourist flow thanks to media coverage…

      1. Oops … apologies Dana. My pad sensed my finger over “report” before the cursor arrived at “reply”. To whom it may concern … there is nothing to check here. 🙂

        Back to Sunspot … The possibility exists for greater folklore than Area 51 …..
        It was mentioned that there is an entire post office located there. The post office may have multiple mailboxes. So instead of just one mailbox …
        I wonder if they will repaint the post office. Just trying to help the folklore along. 🙂

        Hopefully the inquiry will be focused and its outcome be the discovery of truth and neither advertently nor inadvertently result in the creation of relics for veneration.

  13. Thanks for the report….. & I always wondered if you type your blog or perhaps use say “Dragon’, but then I guess “Dragon” could distinguish between you and Glenn Beck.

    I still contend that on a surface level, whatever happened and is or is not happening, millions of people now are aware of a very interesting piece of architecture and a program associate with such a apparatus…

    An “Eye in a Pyramid” where the FBI have…..

    Yes what is the said “criminal activity”, threatening workers there? Other than the Eye being closed…..which might itself be the ultimate crime……

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