August 18, 2017

HAARP and Arecibo ionospheric HF heating research facilities

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I've always been highly fascinated by the HAARP facility in Gakona, Alaska. I already was back in the 1990s, when the research station was still operated by the US military and I was still an SWL.
HAARP stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program. At the facility ionospheric research is done. The most prominent instrument at HAARP is the so called "ionospheric heater", a high power HF radio transmitter and antenna array which is used to temporarily excite a limited area of the ionosphere. Wikipedia states that the HAARP facility is capable of transmitting with a power of up to 4 GW ERP.
In 2014, the US Air Force announced that, starting that same year, the HAARP facility would be completely shut down and dismantled. In 2015 however, the control of the facility and all its equipment was taken over by University of Alaska Fairbanks and continues to operate. In February 2017, the first UAF-led research campaign was done. The UAF is not new to HAARP, as they already participated in the program when it was still operated by the military.

Assistant Research Professor Chris Fallen KL3WX of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, nowadays is one of the researchers doing ionospheric experiments at the facility, and keeps us posted on the ones that might be of interest to radio amateurs and shortwave listeners. The last research campaign of interest done at the facilty was in February 2017, and the next one will be in September 2017. During the February campaign, the signals of HAARP were picked up by radio amateurs all over the world. For more information, follow @ctfallen on Twitter, or visit his blog at

The HAARP site from the beginning has always been subject to conspiracy theories. Read some more about it at

Another ionospheric HF heater recently was constructed at the famous Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. The heater at Arecibo has a nominal power of 600 kW, 100 to 200 MW ERP.
The first research campaign was done this summer, and the signals were received by radio amateurs worldwide, including at PA7MDJ in the Netherlands. A short video compilation of the Arecibo listening sessions done at PA7MDJ, including audio recordings of the signals received, can be found here:

Some more technical info about the Arecibo ionospheric heater can be found here.

Here are some more pictures of the HAARP facility:

HAARP QSL cards!

See also:

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