Scientists visit HAARP, long-time controversial site, for research campaign

Published: Dec. 4, 2018 at 8:54 PM AKST
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Scientists from around the states, as well as Norway, flew up to Alaska to stay in the remote community of Gakona. It's home to a research facility and known for its 180 antennas. The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program's site flashes red lights, while radar watches for planes and scientists man the operations center, but otherwise remains quiet.

"Although it may not look like much is happening behind me, these 180 antennas are currently transmitting radio signals up into the highest point of the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. This facility is the most powerful of its kind in the world," said Chris Fallen, research associate professor at UAF.

The loudest part of this research being conducted is the locomotive sized engines powering the antennas. You can hear the power go up and down as the experiments are ongoing, sending waves of signals up into the atmosphere.

"HAARP allows us to study the way that radio waves interact with the ionosphere, and radio waves are important for our modern society, for communication, navigation and radar," he said.

Once owned by the Department of Defense, the University of Alaska Fairbanks now runs the facility, only one of four in the world like its kind.

"This is the HAARP control room where the experiments for a campaign are programmed, and this is where those experiments are run, where we monitor the status of the transmitter and the generators," he said.

One visiting researcher explains how he uses HAARP to study the way that the ionosphere can interrupt GPS communications.

"What I've done is I can mimic nature and understand more of that and then construct ways of mitigating the impact that that has on position systems and navigation," said researcher James Sheerin.

But the university also has another job they have to focus on: dispelling conspiracy theories.

"We have open house once a year. We do a lot on Facebook to let people know, here's what we're doing, it's all about science," Sheerin said.

Dozens of publications and even a book have been written about the conspiracies believed to be involved with HAARP.

"I wish people had a better understanding of what radio waves cannot do, they cannot manipulate the weather. They cannot create earthquakes for example," said Fallen.

They even made a point to post on Twitter stating they weren't involved in the November 30th earthquake that happened in Anchorage. McCoy doesn't think the university's efforts will ever fully dispel the conspiracy theories.

"No matter how many open houses we have, no matter how many times we show them every little thing, they'll always be some people who want to believe, that there's something strange happening," said Bob McCoy, the director of the Geophysical Institute.

While wanting to put these theories to rest, we were still limited on where we could film. The scientists are focused on conducting their research without distractions. This expensive, powerful research facility only has a few campaigns a year, and then researchers go back home to start analyzing the data.