Radio Wave Experiments Create Artificial Ionosphere
We have been spending so much time worrying about the Earth and its problems that we may sometimes forget all about the wonders of the sky. Luckily, not everyone has given mother all of the attention. The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) has been conducting some experiments lately, with rather interesting results.
Based near Gakona, Alaska, HAARP has been testing a variety of radio wave experiments for the past 20 years. An obvious and typical result of these experiments is that they can create lights similar to auroras (or the northern/southern lights). Naturally, the auroras are caused by a downpour of electrons and other charged particles, from the magnetosphere and into the upper atmosphere. Once they reach an altitude of 250 km, the particles collide with oxygen or nitrogen molecules, creating a variety of colors in the sky.
Recently, HAARP has made a breakthrough discovery. By firing powerful radio waves into the sky, they have created a patch of “artificial ionosphere”, which mimics the uppermost portion of Earth’s atmosphere. What’s more, glowing dots have started to appear within these patches; and these results could also mean a new way to send radio signals around the world.
Previous experiments were using radio waves with the power of 1 megawatt. These simply caused random specks of light. The latest experiment increased the power to 3.6 megawatts (3 times more than a regular broadcast radio transmitter), making it possible to create artificial auroras visible to the naked eye.
But this isn’t the first time in recent years that HAARP has created some interesting, artificial patterns in the sky. Last February, while doing more tests, they managed to create a series of bullseye patterns throughout the sky. Rather than seeing a typical blob-like mass, the energy sent out would trigger a bullseye shape instead. However, rather than being some creative work on their part, it was simply a matter of sending the energy towards areas that contained denser, partially ionized gas.
Discussions have already been started on how useful the creation of an artificial ionosphere could really be. Serious considerations include using the patches to reflect military radio transmissions; while the more humorous ideas involve companies hiring physicists to write glowing advertisements in the night sky. At the very least, they are attempting to find some form of use in all this atmospheric interference.
It’s hard to say what long term effects these experiments will have on the sky, or on the Earth for that matter. If it’s already to the point of using such an amount of energy, and creating such major, artificial lightshows, how much will it interfere with the energy crisis? Will it cause any damage to the actual ionosphere or other atmospheric layers? If so, will it be fixable? Or will these experiments actually prove to be useful and not harmful to us or the environment at all?
I suppose only time will tell. But at the very least, the next time the troubles of this world have you stressed out, go outside and look up. Admire the moon and stars, watch a meteor shower, and relax. Who knows, maybe someday you will see a McDonald’s or Wal-Mart advertisement written in colorful, dancing aurora lights.
By Heidi Marshall