Strange New Air Force Facility Energizes Ionosphere, Fans Conspiracy Flames
Noah Shachtman - 07.20.09
Todd Pedersen had to hustle—the sky was scheduled to start glowing soon, and he didn’t want to miss it. It was just before sunset, a cold February evening in deep-woods Alaska, and the broad-shouldered US Air Force physicist was scrambling across the snow in his orange down parka and fur-lined bomber hat. Grabbing cables and electronics, he rushed to assemble a jury-rigged telescope atop a crude wooden platform.
The rig wasn’t much, just a pair of high-sensitivity cameras packed into a dorm-room refrigerator and pointed at a curved mirror reflecting a panoramic view of the sky. Pedersen had hoped to monitor the camera feed from a relatively warm bunkhouse nearby. But powdery snow two feet deep made it difficult to string cables back to the building.
As darkness closed in, Pedersen tried to get the second imager working—with no luck—and the first one began snapping pictures. A few minutes before seven, throbbing arcs of green and red light began to form on his monitor, eventually coalescing into an egg shape. Other shards of light shimmered, gathered into a jagged ring, and spun around the oval center. “This is really good stuff,” Pedersen cooed. This wasn’t just another aurora borealis triggered by solar winds; this one Pedersen made himself. He did it with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (Haarp): a $250 million facility with a 30-acre array of antennas capable of spewing 3.6 megawatts of energy into the mysterious plasma of the ionosphere.