Once this idea was proven experimentally1 in the mid-1980s, physicist Dennis Papadopoulos, then of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, began trying to drum up support for a new facility.
At the time the Pentagon
was shutting down over-the-horizon radar sites that had been designed to detect Soviet bombers attacking the United States â€" including one in Gakona, an ideal location because it is underneath an electrojet.
So Papadopoulos, who is now at the University of Maryland in College Park and has served as a scientific adviser for HAARP since the project's inception, argued for building an ionospheric heater there.
The facility would help the Navy to study ELF waves, it would provide scientists with an ionospheric heater and it would guarantee continued life for the military site in Alaska, something that Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, famous for steering congressional dollars to his home state, also liked. â€œThat,â€ says Papadopoulos, â€œwas the genesis.â€
According to Papadopoulos, these claims, although far-fetched, were based on a sliver of truth: Bernard Eastlund, a consultant to one of the firms building HAARP, had filed a series of patents making extraordinary claims that HAARP-like technology could be used as a defence shield by transforming natural gas into microwaves, which would knock out incoming Soviet missiles.
The idea, jokingly dubbed the â€œkiller shieldâ€, was even reviewed by the JASON defence advisory group, but was dismissed as â€œnonsenseâ€, according to Papadopoulos
says that the experiment was more for the amateur radio community than for scientists.