For the discerning conspiracy theorist, the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility -- or HAARP -- is ground zero for massive and sinister government secrets. The confusing news? It's holding an open house this weekend.
Ostensibly, HAARP is a federal atmospheric research project based out of an Air Force facility near Gakona, Alaska. But dark rumors have swirled around the project since it opened in the 1990s. Specifically, HAARP -- funded in part by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- has been suspected of housing a top-secret weather control weapon.
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Or maybe a mind control system. It's also been accused of causing several airliner crashes and the 2003 destruction of the space shuttle Columbia. Oh, and storms, droughts, floods and chronic fatigue syndrome. In 2010, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez claimed that HAARP triggered the Haiti earthquake. Click around online and you can find plenty of detailed accounts of nefarious activities and hidden agendas. Be forewarned: It's a never-ending rabbit hole of weirdness.
Calmer assessments from official sources and skeptic groups suggest that the HAARP project was much less ambitious, and in any case the federal program was officially shut down last year. The Alaskan facility, however, was given to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for continuing research purposes. At least, that's what they want you to believe.
The new owners of the HAARP facility are holding an open house this weekend in hopes of finally dispelling all the wild rumors. The remote research station's most conspicuous feature is the Ionospheric Research Instrument -- pictured above -- a high-powered radio frequency transmitter array designed to manipulate energy in the ionosphere. Visitors to this weekend's event will be able to tour the transmitter array, which has traditionally been the focus of the conspiracy theories.
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"We hope that people will be able to see the actual science of it," said Sue Mitchell, spokesperson for UAF's Geophysical Institute, in an interview the 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."
Visitors can also tour the research station's other facilities and check out some of the unmanned aerial vehicles used for atmospheric research. The HAARP station is a 240-mile drive from Fairbanks and roughly 198 miles from Anchorage. Refreshments will be served.
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