ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, reports the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) — a subject of fascination for many ham operators and the target of conspiracy theorists and anti-government activists — has closed down. Jointly funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Naval Research Laboratory, HAARP is an ionospheric research facility. Its best-known apparatus is its 3.6 MW HF (approximately 3 to 10 MHz) ionospheric research instrument (IRI), feeding an extensive system of 180 gain antennas and used to “excite” sections of the ionosphere. Other onsite equipment is used to evaluate the effects.
In America, there are two related ionospheric heating facilities: the HIPAS, near Fairbanks, which was dismantled in 2009, and (currently offline for reconstruction) one at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) operates an ionospheric heating facility, capable of transmitting over 1 GW ERP in Norway. Russia has the Sura Ionospheric Heating Facility, in Vasilsursk, capable of transmitting 190 MW ERP.
HAARP’s program manager, Dr James Keeney at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, told ARRL that the sprawling 35-acre ionospheric research facility in remote Gakona, Alaska, has been shuttered since early May.
“Currently the site is abandoned,” he said. “It comes down to money. We don’t have any.” Keeney said no one is on site, access roads are blocked, buildings are chained and the power turned off. HAARP’s website through the University of Alaska no longer is available; Keeney said the program can’t afford to pay for the service. “Everything is in secure mode,” he said, adding that it will stay that way at least for another 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime a new prime contractor will be coming on board to run the government owned-contractor operated (GOCO) facility.
HAARP put the world on notice two years ago that it would be shutting down and did not submit a budget request for FY 15, Keeney said, “but no one paid any attention.” Now, he says, they’re complaining. “People came unglued,” Keeney said, noting that he’s already had inquiries from Congress. Universities that depended upon HAARP research grants also are upset, he said.
The only bright spot on HAARP’s horizon right now is that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is expected on site as a client to finish up some research this fall and winter. DARPA has nearly $8.8 million in its FY 14 budget plan to research “physical aspects of natural phenomena such as magnetospheric sub-storms, fire, lightning and geo-physical phenomena.”
The ultra-high power facility long has intrigued hams, even outside of Alaska. In 1997, HAARP transmitted test signals on HF (3.4 MHz and 6.99 MHz) and solicited reports from hams and short-wave listeners in the “Lower 48” to determine how well the HAARP transmissions could be heard to the south. In 2007 HAARP succeeded in bouncing a 40 meter signal off the moon. Earlier this year, HAARP scientists successfully produced a sustained high-density plasma cloud in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
As things stand, the Air Force has possession for now, but if no other agency steps forward to take over HAARP, the unique facility will be dismantled, the story said.
HAARP is the subject of numerous conspiracy theories because of its ability to aim a lot of energy into focused areas of the atmosphere and planet in general. Folks have blamed its use by the US and Russia in triggering back-and-forth catastrophes such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, thunderstorms, earthquakes in Iran, Pakistan, Haiti and the Philippines, major power outages, you name it
A Russian military journal once wrote that ionospheric testing would “trigger a cascade of electrons that could flip earth’s magnetic poles.”
Quipped Keeney, “If I actually could affect the weather, I’d keep it open.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We doubt they’d dismantle something this unique. The ionosphere has a lot of electrical energy that guides and influences weather—especially storms. HAARP will likely change hands with another government entity. In the meantime what does it really cost just to sit there unused? Not much.