Why is Project HAARP so controversial?

Why is Project HAARP so controversial?

In Videos, Weapons by Paul Shillito2 Comments


When it comes to controversial science projects, the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program or HAARP is right up there with the moon landings and chemtrails on the conspiracy hit list. But once you get past the wilder theories and claims the basis of the science and its aims is no less intriguing, so just what is HAARP and why is it so controversial.

Some of the many reasons why HAARP attracts so much attention comes from the claims of scientifically uniformed theorists that say it can control the weather, set off earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, bring down missiles and planes, disrupt worldwide communications and influence people’s minds and moods.

If that were true, then it would be one of, if not the most powerful pieces of technology on the planet and hidden behind government and military secrecy.  Yet HAARP is unclassified, though it was funded and jointly managed by the US Airforce, US Navy and DARPA. But due to budget cuts in 2014 the ownership of the site and all the equipment was transferred to the University of Alaska Fairbanks who now also run it.

So what is the purpose of HAARP?, well its basic remit is to study the ionosphere, it’s interaction with  space weather and how that effects radio communications here on earth as well as the generation of VLF (very low frequency) and ELF (extremely low frequency) radio waves which can travel around the world to penetrate deep under the sea for communications with submarines and into the ground to reveal underground structures.

HAARP deals with come complex science and how it operates is equally complex but the basic principle is to try a replicate how the sun affects the upper atmosphere to create the ionosphere and how it then goes on to affect it, but to do this in a controlled, repeatable way and of course on a much much smaller scale.

Now, In order to understand HAARP, we need to know a little about the ionosphere. This is a constantly changing area of the earth’s upper atmosphere that reaches from about 60km to 1000km in altitude, where it’s thin enough so that the suns Ultraviolet and X-rays can reach it, but thick enough that it can absorb these rays and ionize the gases. Its also well above the area called the troposphere where we live.

Ionization is the process where high energy radiation strips away an electron from a neutral atom or molecule and creates a negatively charged electron and positive ion, that’s an atom with a missing electron. This process creates a shell of these charged particles around the earth which we called the ionosphere.

This stripping of the electrons also releases energy in the form of heat and light. This is light is called airglow and it how the auroral lights are formed in the polar regions but it also makes the night sky everywhere glow very slightly which you can see on a dark clear night with a sensitive camera and sometimes by eye.

Normally in the dense atmosphere near the surface of the earth, the negative electrons and positive ions would recombine very quickly but because the gas high in the upper atmosphere is much less dense the particles are much farther apart and remain separated for much longer.

With all these free electrons floating around, the high atmosphere becomes conductive, starting at about 60Km, peaking in intensity at 300km and then reducing till about 1000km where the atmosphere becomes too thin and the vacuum on space take over.

In fact, the ionosphere separates into three layers called the D, E and F layers with D being at the lowest altitude rising up to F at the highest altitude.

Because these layers are conductive they interact with electromagnetic waves like radio broadcasts from the surface. Depending on their frequency, some radio waves will be absorbed, some will bounce off the electron layer and be reflected and some will pass right with little resistance.

As these layers are created by the sun’s energy they can change dramatically from day to night, from summer to winter, in fact, the lowest D layer only exists in the day time and disappears at night. They are also affected by high solar activity and solar flares and thus affect radio transmissions similarly.

HAARP uses up to 3.6Mw of high-frequency radio signals in the 2 – 10MHz range to excite and heat the gas molecules and create ionic plasma in a small area of the ionosphere directly above the facility. It does this with the main instrument the IRI or Ionospheric Research Instrument. This is the heater, its a phased array radio transmitter with 180 antennae in a grid covering about 100,000 sq meters or about 24 acres. This array works as one large transmitter but it can electronically steer the beam over about a 30-degree angle.

By the time the signal reaches the ionosphere, it has spread out to a size of between 60 to 100 km kilometres across depending upon its frequency and configuration. By rapidly steering the beam around this small patch of sky it can modulate the heating to create signals like VFL and EFL waves.

Among the many misconceptions about HAARP, probably the biggest is its power output as this is seen as undeniable proof that it is capable to of doing all the wild things claimed of it. Its stated maximum power is 3.6Mw but this is often mistaken for another much larger figure, it’s ERP output and that can be up to 5.8Gw. So why are there two wildly different figures for the same facility?

Well, HAARP’s net output is 3.6Mw but in the broadcast industry, there is another figure called ERP or Effective Radiated Power and here is where people get confused between actual power and ERP because they don’t understand what ERP represents.

But one thing is for sure, you can’t put in 3.6Mw and get out 5.8Gw as some claim, it’s just physically impossible. In fact, you can’t even get out a single microwatt more than you put in. If you did then A) you just solved all the worlds energy needs by creating a machine that makes more energy than it uses and B) you just broke the laws of physics and in particular the “law of conservation of energy”.

HAARP has to focus its 3.6Mw onto a small area of sky hundreds of Km above using its antenna array like a torch focuses its light into a tight bright beam. That 5.8 Gigawatt ERP is a fictional figure used by engineers in the broadcast industry to indicate how powerful the transmitter would have to be if there was no focusing and the whole sky was covered to the same power intensity at the target distance, which in this case is the small patch of sky 300km directly above HAARP.

That ERP figure can change dramatically from tens of megawatts to gigawatts depending on how efficient the antenna is deemed to be at focusing the radio transmissions.

The tighter, more focused the beam the higher the ERP figure will be, the more spread out the lower the ERP figure will be. But at the end of the day, the most HAARP can transmit is 3.6Mw. With the inefficiencies in the system, the divergence of the beam and absorption of the atmosphere, by the time it gets to the ionosphere, it’s down to 36mW, 36 thousandths of a watt per sq metre of the sky in the target zone.

The amount of energy from the sun falling on the same sq metre of sky, by comparison, is 1367W, about 37,000 times more energy than HAARP. As one scientist put it, it’s like trying to heat the Yukon River with a domestic immersion heater.

But in case you think I’m just making it up consider this if that 5.8Gw was real, where does that power come from. 5.8Gw of electricity is far more than the whole of Alaska generates and is enough to supply 4.6 million US households assuming each house was using an average 1.26Kw as stated by the US Energy Information Administration. That’s equivalent of New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas combined.

The biggest nonhydroelectric power station in the US is the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, Arizona at 3.9Gw and that would still be short by nearly 2Gw. So where is the massive power station near HAARP and the transmission infrastructure required to supply this fictional 5.8Gw, it doesn’t exist, in fact, HAARP’s power actually comes from five 2.5Mw diesel generators on site near the IRI.

So if the power output is one of the biggest misconceptions about HAARP, the other comes from its history and in particular a patent filed by the physicist Bernard J. Eastlund.

To find out why you have to go back to the area of Alaska before HAARP was constructed and to the Gas and Oil company Atlantic Richfield aka ARCO and Bernard Eastlund.

ARCO had the rights to huge natural gas fields in Alaska’s North Slope region but they were far from their main customers and the cost of liquefying and transporting the gas was prohibitive. What they needed was a customer that would be nearby.

Bernard Eastlund was an MIT trained physicist who had worked at the US Atomic Energy Commission during the 1960s and ’70s. He specialized in plasma physics and co-developed the “Fusion Torch” a method of using the high-temperature plasma of a nuclear fusion reactor to convert waste materials into reusable elements.

In the 1980s, Eastlund was working for ARCO and became the president of ARCO’s Production Technologies International Company in Houston. He suggested that ARCO could use the natural gas reserves to power a huge antenna complex to focus a high energy radio beams into the ionosphere. This would heat the gas atoms to create artificial plasma layers in the ionosphere but in a way which could be controlled moved and shaped by the equipment on the ground.

Alaska would also be a good position because the earth magnetic field lines go almost vertically in that area. Each antenna would create a circularly polarised radio beam that would spin the particles around the field lines at the resonant frequency of the ions in the same way a cyclotron works to accelerate particles. This would heat the plasma and allow it to move along the magnetic field lines to higher altitudes.

Eastlund was granted a US Patent, number 4686,605 for the invention titled “Method and apparatus for altering a region in the earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and/or magnetosphere“ on August 11, 1987. Now whilst Eastlund filed the patent he did so whilst working for ARCO and as such ARCO owned the patent. Some time afterwards, Eastlund disassociated himself from it and ARCO and set up his own research company.

Eastlund’s patent makes some very interesting, if not technical reading and some extraordinary claims.

Some of the claims include that it could disrupt communications both around the earth but also to and from satellites, missiles, and air and sea craft, by randomly modulating areas of the ionosphere which are relied upon to propagate radio signals around the earth and thus effectively scrambling the signals.

Now back in the late ’50s and early 60s, the US and Soviets exploded nuclear weapons in the magnetosphere high above the earth, We have a video on that if you want to see it, this created large amounts of charged particles which were found to travel along the magnetic field lines in a spiral motion and bounce back forth between the mirror points at their ends at very high speed, this created a lot of radio noise that could blind radar systems and was thought at the time could cause the electronics of nuclear missiles to fail.

One of the Patent claims was that a plasma layer could be created and used to trap some of the plasma particles which would then oscillate between the new layer and the mirror points on the magnetic field lines to create interference that could have a similar effect to the nuclear tests but without having to detonate a nuclear device in space.

Other uses include heating large areas of the ionosphere to move them to much higher altitudes to create unexpected and unplanned drag forces on missiles and satellites and cause them to become unstable in their travel.

Also, Weather modification by affecting upper atmospheric wind patterns by stacking of differing shaped plumes of particles to create a lens effect and concentrating solar energy over an area or altering the course of the Jetstream to move adverse weather like hurricanes or denying rain to drought-prone areas.

It could also claimed to be able to make a wave reflector in the sky to steer ELF signals to a depth of a kilometre or more, the reflections could be picked up by a satellite and after processing could reveal hidden structures, a bit like a CAT scan of the earth.

Another reason to use ELF waves is that the frequency of brains waves in humans lays in the 3 to 12hz range, very similar to that of ELF signals. It was suggested that directing such a frequency at an enemy might have a detrimental effect on their mood and ability to operate.

But it wasn’t all destructive, Eastlund suggested that it could be used to modify the molecular makeup of the upper atmosphere, increasing levels of ozone to fill the ozone hole and to break up various chemical entities such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides.

Even though the claims in the patent seemed extraordinary and probably somewhat over the top, ARCO still passed the idea for the Ionospheric heater and its possible uses to Simon Ramo who had led the development of Microwave and missile technology and was instrumental in the creation of the ICBM. He passed it to the defence dept, who gave it to the Pentagon’s advanced research arm, Darpa.

The big claims may well have raised a few eyebrows in the military and its electronic beam steering and reflection technology would be of great interest to them but the overall size of the proposed project would be massive. 

For Eastlund’s patent to create the effects it claimed were possible it would call for a site with a maximum output of 100Gw of true power, not a fictional ERP figure. That’s some 27,700 times more powerful than HAARP’s 3.6Mw. If the Eastlund design used the same 20Kw antennas and layout dimensions as at HAARP, it would need 5 million antennas which would take up an area measuring 51km by 51km, big enough to cover the city of Houston in Texas.

This is why Eastlund and ARCO suggested that the power would come from the huge gas reserves of Alaska’s North Slope, it would have been a massive cash cow to ARCO to supply the gas. To put this 100Gw requirement into context, it’s 9% of the United States total electrical power capacity of 1100Gw.  The biggest gas-fired power stations in the world are in Russia and can generate 5.5Gw of power each. Eastlund’s array would need 18 of these working at full power to supply the 100Gw.

Eastlund’s idea was just too grandiose but the scientists saw the opportunity to build a much smaller facility that would allow them to test ideas and gain a much greater understanding of the ionosphere.

So with the help of the Alaskan senator Ted Stevens, $10M of funding was provided and paid to ARCO to build a prototype HAARP research facility at a site of a US Airforce “over the horizon radar” which had been cancelled before completion at Gakona, Alaska.

Because of the location of HAARP, it would be able to the tap in the Auroral Electrojet, an electric current that circulates in the polar regions of the ionosphere. By modulating the Auroral Electrojet with an ELF wave, it would act like an incredibly long virtual antenna high in the sky to transmit these VLF and ELF signals, something that the US Navy particularly liked the idea of.

So now we can to see where we get this conflation of ideas between the HAARP research facility and Eastlund’s original patent but the two are not the same

HAARP operates sporadically throughout the year for short periods of time and does not use microwaves to energize the atmospheric gas’s as some people think, so it’s not like a giant microwave oven. Its operating frequency of 2 – 10Mhz is 2000 times lower than the 2.45Ghz used in a microwave oven. You know when HAARP is working because you can hear its characteristic tones in the shortwave band up to many thousands of kilometres away.

HAARP is not the only site like this, there other smaller ones in Russia and Norway but HAARP is the most powerful and has been able to create controlled effects in the ionosphere such as faint airglow, ELF and VLF signals. It’s has detected previously unknown ionospheric effects which have advanced our understanding of the ionosphere greatly and some might say that its proof of concept that Eastlund’s ideas could work.

But to claim that HAARP is capable of doing the same is either simple ignorance of the facts or choose to ignore the facts.

So what your views on HAARP, should we do this research considering its origins or leave well alone, let me know in the comments.

So thanks for watching and don’t forget to check out some of our other videos if you get the chance and please subscribe, thumbs up and share.

Paul Shillito
Creator and presenter of Curious Droid Youtube channel and website www.curious-droid.com.


  1. I’m a retired professor of chemistry and physics, and I don’t see HAARP as conspiracy theorists do. Back in 2012 I completed a retirement project – a sensitive seismometer- and using Fourier transform methods, found a way to compare a seismogram with the ELF spectrum, 3 to 30 Hz, along with a band below it, from 0.5 to 3 Hz. Those cover, respectively, the Schumann resonance spectrum (associated with global lightning) and resonances down to ~1 Hz (associated with Alfven waves). How did manage to do that?

    As you pointed out, HAARP uses a powerful HF transmitter to beam modulating signals into the electrojet, allowing experiments throughout the two bands cited above (actually down to 0.1 Hz). The electrojet becomes a long enough antenna for emitting ELF and even lower frequency radio signals. Similarly, I realized that the power grid amounts to the front end of a superheterodyne ELF receiver (the partially power saturated transformers are non-linear devices that create harmonics of 60 Hz and in turn mix those harmonics, as signal carriers, with incoming ELF radiation). Like the electrojet, the grid’s size is large enough for receiving ELF waves. I don’t think I’m first to do that.

    The higher harmonics get you out of the 60 Hz glare; I use the 37th, at 2220 Hz and have the seismometer’s baseline at, say 2210 Hz, putting both in a common 2D display. To make a long story short, I was entertained for years with HAARP experiment signals, but when HAARP shut down, that’s when I began to notice the ELF quake precursor signals.

    Trouble is, I wrote to the UAF-HAARP website wanting their opinion about signals seen before and during a recent big quake – was it their signals or not – and they ignored me! Understand, I don’t believe HAARP causes earthquakes. They aren’t being good scientists by ignoring me. Quake prediction research is a worthwhile thing, just as valid as defense research.

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