The investigation site is near Gakona, Alaska (lat. 62.39° N, long 145.15° W). An extensive array of 180 aerial towers is in the process of being erected at a initial cost of $30m to make the phased array transmitter, named the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI). HAARP is the third US ionospheric research site, the others are near the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico and near Fairbanks, Alaska. A European research station is based near Tromsų in Norway.
The intention is to direct an 3600 kW pulse in the 2.8-10 MHz bandwidth into the ionosphere and then to examine the effects of the pulse and the recovery period using associated radar equipment. This sort of ionospheric pumping is commonly associated with solar flares, which is a stated area of research for HAARP. It is also associated with high-altitude nuclear explosions, an effect known as EMP, something none of the public documents point out. HAARP can also used to create ELF frequencies as a side effect of this ionospheric heating, however this method is extremely inefficient and poses no safety risk. HAARP will clearly be useful, and used, for studying these closely related effects.
The project is a favorite target for conspiracy theorists. The proposed intention of the project is not certain, but theories include tests of the ability "to deliver very large amount of energy, comparable to a nuclear bomb, anywhere on earth", "changing weather patterns", "blocking all global communications", "disrupting human mental processes" and mind control, communicating with submarines, and "x-raying the earth". Some have pointed out that the constructed towers are similar in appearance to the abortive Wardenclyffe Tower of Nikola Tesla, another favourite topic of the conspiracy theories, one that is particularly interesting considering they don't look even remotely like the Wardenclyffe Tower.