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UAF receives 9.3 million dollar grant for HAARP facility, studying the ionosphere

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Located in located in Gakona, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, is a high-power, high-frequency transmitter used by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Geophysical Institute to study the ionosphere.

Robert McCoy, Director of the Geophysical Institute told us about the history of HAARP, and the future this grant represents for the facility. “The Air Force, and the Navy and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) built it for about $290 million, and in 2015 they gave it to us, the Geophysical Institute, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. We’ve been operating it ever since but just in a small way.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently provided UAF a $9.3 million grant for the purposes of maintaining the HAARP facility, and expending the scope of their operations there. McCoy said, “This allows us a lot more hours, paid by NSF. NSF researchers can come use it quite a bit more extensively than has been in the past.”

The HAARP facility is one of only three installations of it’s type in the world, and among them it is the most sophisticated. McCoy explained, “HAARP is a big radio - big HF transmitter. It transmits from 2.8 to 10 Megahertz which is in the HAM frequency range. It’s basically a large HAM radio- the largest in the world. It’s got 128 antennas and 720 transmitters, and it’s fed by 5 tugboat generators generating about 35-40 horsepower each. That’s very powerful - and what you can do is when you transmit that energy upwards into the ionosphere, it get’s absorbed and you can do experiments.”

The ionosphere is a region of the earth’s upper atmosphere that extends from 30 to 600 miles above the surface.

“We have a number of experimenters coming in, a couple campaigns planned this summer. We have people coming to study creating artificial aurora, doing communication experiments, seeing what kind of resonances we can generate, we can excite in the ionosphere - and even, can we use the ionosphere and can we use HAARP for over the horizon radar to look for ships and airplanes coming into Alaska from the north or other directions,” said McCoy.

According to McCoy the NSF will pay for an open house of the HAARP facility that will allow anyone to visit. This will likely take place summer 2022.

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