Scientists in Alaska Attempt to Produce Artificial Aurora

Sometimes, experiments don’t work out as planned.

In late September, Christopher Fallen and technicians at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) near Gakona, Alaska, switched on a giant array of 180 antennas. They were hoping to produce radio-induced airglow, also known as artificial aurora, as a way to better understand the mechanics of natural aurora.

Such airglow would be difficult to see with the naked eye, so Fallen had set up two low-light video cameras to capture it. And he tweeted his plans, in the off chance that someone else might catch a glimpse. After all, some of the most impressive artificial aurora displays to date have been produced at HAARP.

But the sky was too cloudy. And by the time it was dark enough, the ionosphere had deteriorated too much, with relatively few electrons per cubic centimeter. Fallen wasn’t able to generate any airglow during four days of experiments.

But not all was lost. He had also embedded images into the powerful radio wave that HAARP uses to heat a patch of the ionosphere, and alerted amateur radio enthusiasts through Twitter. As the experiment ran, his feed began to light up with tweets from listeners who were sending the images back to him.

Read more – IEEE Spectrum: http://bit.ly/2ir65Zc

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