All right, conspiracy fans, you were right. There really is an Area 51.
For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged that it has a facility called "Area 51" in Nevada near Groom Lake, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas. But the site served as a proving ground for the U-2 spy plane, and not a secret storage room for aliens and spaceships, as has long been maintained by conspiracy groups. George Washington University's National Security Archive made the clandestine find after receiving documents related to the infamous military base during a Freedom of Information Act Request submitted in 2005. The Archive posted the documents online on Thursday (Aug. 15).
Do you believe alien life exists elsewhere in the universe?
Yes - We may not have found them yet, but they're out there.
The official government references to Area 51 appear in a document obtained by the National Security Archive called " The Central Intelligence Agency and Overhead Reconnaissance: The U-2 and OXCART Programs, 1954-1974." The study had been released in bits over time, but newly declassified bits include overt references to Groom Lake as Area 51. The site was used as a major testing ground for the U-2 spy planes, according to the documents. But where are the aliens? Where are the spaceships? I guess that will stay in the realm of science fiction. [Read the full report at the National Security Archive]
Tariq joined Purch's Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.