What Is Area 51? What We Know About the Secret Government Base, Alien Rumors and Why People Want to Raid It

The Area 51 raid is apparently on. Officials fear what began as a Facebook joke may turn into hundreds of alien hunters storming the secretive military facility on Friday, as people reportedly began arriving overnight.

Facebook took down an event page entitled "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," but not before about 2 million people clicked the "going" button, CNN reported. And it seems at least some of them took the message seriously.

The incident has led many people to question why people want to raid Area 51 in the first place.

Area 51 is located in the Nevada desert and has long been a target for conspiracy theories. Many alien enthusiasts believe it houses alien spacecraft, possible live extraterrestrials and, at the very least, secret government information regarding alien encounters. Many claim the base includes an underground lab for studying unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.

The base is off-limits for civilians. It's also reportedly illegal for any pilot to fly over Area 51, which is 85 miles north of Las Vegas.

It's widely known that Area 51 has served as a test site for military and spying aircraft, and aerial images of the base show long runways. President Dwight Eisenhower authorized the development of the top-secret program in 1954, but the government didn't public acknowledge Area 51's existence until 2013, Business Insider reported.

Area 51
Local sheriffs stand guard at one of the entrances to Area 51, on September 19, in Rachel, Nevada. The Area 51 raid event began as a joke, but it seems some alien enthusiasts took it seriously. George Frey/Getty

Bob Lazar, a self-proclaimed scientist who claims to have been involved in a government program at Area 51 and worked on alien spaceships, is one of the figures who have fueled the rumors about the base. A documentary featuring interviews with Lazar, Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers, is available on Netflix.

Matty Roberts, the community college student who created the Facebook page for the Area 51 raid on June 27, found inspiration in the documentary. He reportedly decided to create the event after hearing Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell on Joe Rogan's podcast.

Though Roberts didn't intend for an actual event to happen, he's been supportive of a safe gathering since.

It's unclear how many people will arrive at the Area 51 gates, but there are some concerns surrounding the event—like the fact that the closest gas station to Area 51 is 50 miles away. There is also only one, 14-room hotel, which has been booked for the weekend, according to CNN. Rachel, Nevada—the Area 51 town—only has 54 residents.

Roberts also threw a different event, Alienstock, in downtown Las Vegas. It took place Thursday night.

What Is Area 51? What We Know About the Secret Government Base, Alien Rumors and Why People Want to Raid It | U.S.