It’s a real news desert out there today, so here’s a fun and Friday-worthy post for any self-declared space nerds in the audience. The mysteriously fenced-off and airspace-restricted area of land about 125 miles north of Las Vegas known as Area 51, a top-secretive government compound nearby a military base — long thought among certain circles to potentially contain answers to that age-old question, “Are we alone in the universe?” — has finally been officially acknowledged by the federal government.
In what will surely be a disappointment for conspiracy theorists everywhere, however, the newly disclosed information about what’s really inside the parcel of land is… well… kind of a letdown. CNN reports on the recently released CIA documents:
According to these reports, which include a map of the base’s location in Nevada, Area 51 was merely a testing site for the government’s U-2 and OXCART aerial surveillance programs. The U-2 program conducted surveillance around the world, including over the Soviet Union during the Cold War. …
This information will be disappointing to some, who have come to view the area has been a mecca of sorts for alien encounters. …
The map and other documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jeffrey T. Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archives, in 2005.
Richelson submitted the request as part of his continuing study of aerial surveillance programs and told CNN that he was not given an explanation of why the new documents were less redacted than previous versions declassified by the agency.
So, in the end, after all of the folklore and pop culture references about aliens and unidentified flying objects and creepy extraterrestrial experiments, it turns out that Area 51 really has just been your typical Cold-War era military and technological testing ground all along.
…Or has it?!?!