Last week, U.S. government officials ordered the immediate evacuation of the National Solar Observatory facility located on Sacramento Peak in New Mexico. Soon thereafter, the nearby post office was evacuated, leaving the tiny community bereft of two of it’s primary functions, and people all over the nation wondering what would have prompted FBI helicopters to descend upon the quiet group of white buildings peaking out from the forested hills. If the sudden evacuation itself weren’t cause enough for alarm, concerns grew dramatically when it was revealed that federal law enforcement had left local authorities completely in the dark — prompting a whole slew of conspiracy theories regarding the nature of the work being done at the observatory, and just what could have happened to justify both the observed response from federal officials and the accompanying secrecy.

Otero County Sheriff Benny House was clearly frustrated by the lack of communication when addressing local media outlets immediately following the evacuation. He was quoted in local media outlets as saying:

The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on. We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby 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 Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

For ten days, the observatory and nearby buildings sat quiet, empty of even a security presence from the law enforcement officials that had conducted the evacuation, which alongside the noticeable silence from officials only served to exacerbate conspiracy theories ranging from employees of the observatory spotting an incoming alien spaceship to perhaps more credible concerns about espionage in the facility located so close to the White Sands missile test range, where a number of different forms of ordnance see testing and frequent use by the U.S. military.