HAARP, aka the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, lives out a quiet existence in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. But for one reason or another, this ionospheric research facility has become the favorite scratching post for conspiracy theorists – attracting accusations of being a weather-altering superweapon, the force behind chemtrails, and even a mind-control device.
The new management of HAARP – The University of Alaska Fairbanks – aren’t too happy with these claims. So this Saturday, they’re opening its doors and inviting the public to come visit the facility for free. The open house will include facility tours, a mobile planetarium, a permafrost exhibit, science talks, and a barbecue.
“We hope that people will be able to see the actual science of it,” a spokesperson from the University of Alaska, who run HAARP, told Alaska Dispatch News. “We hope to show people that it is not capable of mind control and not capable of weather control and all the other things it’s been accused of.”
HAARP’s inception was funded by the US Air Force and the US Navy, although since 2013 it has been under control of the University of Alaska's Geophysics Institute. The facility’s main job is to research and measure the ionosphere of Earth's uppermost atmosphere. Since this part of the upper atmosphere plays a big role in the transmission of radio signals and geophysical processes, it has many scientific, civilian, and military applications.
Perhaps because of this tie to the military, the facility has had more than its fair share of conspiracy theories. Here’s some of the most popular and imaginative:
- Hugo Chavez, former president of Venezuela, said HAARP caused the Haitian Earthquake.
- Wrestler-turned-political commentator Jesse Ventura has suggested HAARP bombards people worldwide with mind-controlling radio waves.
- A Russian military journal has said that HAARP could potentially flip Earth's magnetic poles, according to WIRED.
- Chemtrails are part of HAARP’s program of weather modification.
- The Space Shuttle Columbia was shot down in 2003 as “target practice” for the HAARP project.
- HAARP was initially set up by Nazi Germany.
But if you're still unsure about the job of HAARP, head on down to Alaska and grab a burger with the scientists on Saturday. See here for directions.
Image credit: Open Your I's/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)