The research institute in Sunspot was evacuated last Thursday along with a nearby United States Postal Service office for unexplained 'security reasons.'
A spokesperson for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) which manages the observatory said the evacuation was a precautionary measure due to a security issue. "It was our decision to evacuate the facility," spokeswoman Shari Lifson added.
A statement made by the Otero County Sheriff, Benny House, to Alamogordo Daily News in the aftermath of the announcement has contributed to intense speculation around the incident, however. House said that they were asked to standby but given no further information.