Author Topic: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?  (Read 2169 times)

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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Itís been evacuated and the FBI is there and the local authorities have no idea why.

Probably nothing, but at least for now itís intriguing...

http://earthsky.org/human-world/why-sunspot-solar-observatory-nm-closed-fbi
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Offline Hobbes-22

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #1 on: 09/15/2018 10:12 AM »
The most credible theory I've seen so far: The SSO has a large tower that overlooks the nearby White Sands Missile Range. That tower would be a good place to put espionage equipment.

Offline SWGlassPit

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #2 on: 09/16/2018 01:45 AM »
They wouldn't close the whole of Sunspot for that.

There's an observatory just a mile away that has an even better view of WSMR that they didn't close.

I suspect a test failure resulted in classified tech and/or unexploded ordnance being dumped somewhere on the site.

Online CJ

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #3 on: 09/16/2018 03:32 AM »
This is indeed peculiar.

If reports are true, the FBI came in a Blackhawk. That suggests urgency. Keeping the local police in the dark suggests they want to keep this quiet, but that makes no sense; going about it this way guarantees maximum interest.

If the issue was some sort of ordinance from White Sands landing on the property, surely they'd just say so by now? Also, the FBI wouldn't be the first responders for that.

So what does fit the apparent facts? My guess is it was something urgent (otherwise, why the Blackhawk?) and seeing as how it was the FBI, which amongst other things is the nation's prime counter-intel agency, and given the location, my guess is it's something to do with espionage.


Offline freddo411

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #4 on: 09/16/2018 05:26 AM »
A high class solar telescope like this produces some amazing aircraft silhouettes.   The attached picture is an example but my experience with a professional solar scope I could resolve windows on airliners as they landed 50 miles away.

Maybe the FBI noticed that someone at the observatory was sending one of these interesting pictures to Russia/China?

Seems like an over reaction to me.

My question is, what do they have at Holloman AFB?  Google maps shows F4 phantoms ... hardly interesting
« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 05:31 AM by freddo411 »

Offline Thorny

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #5 on: 09/16/2018 02:47 PM »
My question is, what do they have at Holloman AFB?  Google maps shows F4 phantoms ... hardly interesting

UAVs (Predators and Reapers).  That could be interesting. The F-4 are target drones. There are also some T-38s.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #6 on: 09/16/2018 09:50 PM »
Site will be reopened tomorrow per AURA release

http://aura-astronomy.org/news/news.asp?newsID=389

Quote
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.
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Offline jbenton

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #7 on: 09/16/2018 10:12 PM »
My question is, what do they have at Holloman AFB?  Google maps shows F4 phantoms ... hardly interesting

UAVs (Predators and Reapers).  That could be interesting. The F-4 are target drones. There are also some T-38s.

None of those are particularly sophisticated. China already has an analogue to the large HALE RQ-4, which is much more difficult to develop than the small MALE Predators or Reapers (it even has a box wing! I'm so jealous)

Holloman is the traditional home of the F-117, but only after it was declassified. Before then they were at Tonopah, which is where they are now in "Type 1000" storage.

In short, I don't think there's anything interesting there that Russia, China or any state-actor affiliated with Russia or China would want at Holloman.

Also, if it had something  to do with military secrets, the CIA would be involved, not the FBI (I'd think)

Offline DaveS

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Re: What’s going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #8 on: 09/16/2018 11:12 PM »
Also, if it had something  to do with military secrets, the CIA would be involved, not the FBI (I'd think)
No that's not right. Domestic espionage investigations fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI and not the CIA, as the CIA charter forbids them from operating domestically. So any suspicions about espionage immediately gets the FBI involved. There's no involvement from local or state agencies, only the FBI and whatever federal agency/department they decide to involve.

This is a direct quote from the FBI's Counterintelligence page(https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/counterintelligence):

"While the Counterintelligence Division continues to neutralize national security threats from foreign intelligence services, its modern-day mission is much broader. The FBI is the lead agency for exposing, preventing, and investigating intelligence activities on U.S. soil, and the Counterintelligence Division uses its full suite of investigative and intelligence capabilities to combat counterintelligence threats."
« Last Edit: 09/16/2018 11:16 PM by DaveS »
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Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #9 on: 09/17/2018 03:27 AM »
An update on the story: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/16/new-mexico-observatory-closed-for-security-issue-to-reopen.html

Interesting quotes "The Sunspot Solar Observatory no longer faces a security threat to staff"

"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," the association said.


Offline tyrred

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #10 on: 09/17/2018 08:01 AM »
Whew.  And I was beginning to think someone got caught trying to harness sunspots as a "space" "laser".

Offline as58

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #11 on: 09/17/2018 09:49 AM »
An update on the story: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/09/16/new-mexico-observatory-closed-for-security-issue-to-reopen.html

Interesting quotes "The Sunspot Solar Observatory no longer faces a security threat to staff"

"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," the association said.

But unexpectedly closing the observatory and all the new coverage of that somehow doesn't alert the suspect?

Offline catdlr

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Re: Whatís going on over at the Sunspot Solar Observatory?
« Reply #12 on: 09/21/2018 04:39 AM »
Shutdown Of New Mexico Observatory Was Part Of Investigation Into Child Pornography

NPR Article

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Officials have explained the mysterious closure of a New Mexico observatory earlier this month, saying they were investigating one of the facility's janitors for possession and distribution of child pornography.

Quote
The FBI says it closed the observatory in case the suspect posed a danger to other employees. The observatory reopened on Monday.
« Last Edit: 09/21/2018 04:42 AM by catdlr »
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