Just-completed research at the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitters in Gakona, Alaska, successfully took advantage of the WSPR digital protocol and the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network (WSPRnet) on July 30 through August 1. University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Space Physics Group researcher and HAARP Chief Scientist Chris Fallen, KL3WX, told ARRL that the research — HAARP’s fourth research campaign under management of the University of Alaska Fairbanks — went well.
“My ‘citizen science’ experiments were funded by the National Science Foundation and were conducted for approximately 30 minutes at the end of each campaign day,” Fallen told ARRL. “They consisted of 2-minute transmissions using the WSPR digital mode in the 40- and 80-meter bands, with a 2-minute off period between transmissions.” He said HAARP transmitted in full-carrier, double-sideband AM because it does not have SSB capability. HAARP operated under its Part 5 Experimental license, WI2XFX, with Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to transmit on amateur bands.
“I systematically varied the HAARP transmission parameters, such as gain, net power, beam direction, and polarization, to see how they affected the reception reports collected in the WSPRnet.org database,” Fallen said. “During the 3 days, we gathered more than 300 confirmed reports of signal strength and location from nearly 100 unique participants throughout Canada and the US.”
Fallen said the spots, collected along with the corresponding HAARP transmission parameters, are available online, (1) and (2). He said the spreadsheet at the second link is editable by the public, “specifically by citizen scientists who want to manually add their spot or other interesting data analysis,” he added. “In this sense, the experiment continues.”
He said that HAARP’s low-elevation transmissions on 40 meters resulted in the greatest number of spots. “The 40-acre phased array antenna at HAARP, with its vertically oriented normal, is not designed for low-elevation transmissions, and so these directional experiments most likely included significant grating lobes in the opposite directions,” Fallen explained. “The most distant spot was located at grid EL96xi, near Boca Raton, Florida, reported by W1NEJ, from a distance of 6,154 kilometers. Interestingly, HAARP was aimed in the magnetic west direction during that spot. Those grating lobes!” A grating lobe occurs when the signal is steered too far with a phased array and the main beam reappears on the opposite side.
Fallen said a few Alaskans participated in the test, and all spots from there were on 80 meters, with the exception of a single 40-meter spot reported by KL4IU, located near Fairbanks. “KL4IU used a 30 MHz turnstile antenna recycled from the old Poker Flat Research Range imaging riometer, essentially a phased array HF receiver, that was destroyed by lightning many years ago,” he said.
HAARP and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are planning to conduct heating campaigns this fall, Fallen noted, although not at the same time, as experimenters are shared.
Funding agencies for the recent HAARP research campaign included the National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Office of Naval Research, with experimenters from the Naval Research Laboratory, Air Force Research Laboratory, Eastern Michigan University, Cornell University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
HAARP is holding its annual open house on August 25.
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