The US Air Force plans to shut down the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Gakona, Alaska, in the coming months, NBC News reports.
The $US300 million HAARP project has been the subject of controversy since it was launched in 1993.
Comprised of 180 antennae approximately 22 metres tall, which are linked together to function as one, HAARP can direct a powerful energy beam into the ionosphere, a region of the upper atmosphere.
Officially, the project was designed to help researchers better understand the ionosphere, which ranges between about 85 kilometres to 595 kilometres in altitude.
However, the program’s capabilities have raised concerns that it could be used to alter the weather as a form of weaponry.
In 2010, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez blamed HAARP, or a similar program, for triggering the devastating earthquake in Haiti. And conspiracy theorists have blamed HAARP for global warming and a number of other natural disasters such as the deadly 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
In a letter to Congress, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, explained the decision to shut down the program. "We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do. To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed," he told Congress, according to TechTimes.
Researchers from the University of Alaska have reportedly inquired about buying the facility but have yet to offer the $US5 million needed each year to keep it running.
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