China and Russia have joined forces and are going ahead with controversial plans to heat and alter the Earth’s atmosphere.
This project, experts claim, has potential military applications as it can disrupt satellite communication, a distinct advantage in the event of war or espionage.
Charged particles, known as ions, create a reflective layer over a specific region of land and cause a satellite communications blackout.
The two superpowers have conducted several joint experiments which altered the chemical composition of the air high above Europe and China plans to expand the use of the technology.
South China Morning Post reports that one experiment involved a region half the size of Britain (126,000 sq km/49,000 square miles) more than 310 miles (500 km) above Eastern Europe.
Vasilsursk, a small Russian town, experienced a spike of electricity which had ten times more negatively charged subatomic particles than nearby regions.
Further experiments included increasing the temperature of an ionised gas in the atmosphere by more than 100°C (212°F).
Electrons were sent into the sky by a specialist facility in Vasilsursk which was built during the cold war.
It produced microwaves at 260 mega watts – enough to light a small city – and sent these high into the atmosphere.
Data on the reaction of Earth’s atmosphere was then collected by Zhangheng-1, a Chinese electromagnetic surveillance satellite.
It was calibrated to maximise data collection and took measurements every half a second.
In a research paper published in Chinese journal Earth and Planetary Physics the results were labelled as ‘satisfactory’ by the authors.
Professor Guo Lixin at Xidian University in China called the joint venture extremely unusual.
‘Such international cooperation is very rare for China,’ said Guo, who was not involved in the experiment. ‘The technology involved is too sensitive.’
Earth’s ionosphere is created when the cosmic rays from space excite atoms and force electrons to separate, creating ions – charged electrons.
At high altitudes this is common and can cause microwaves and radiowaves to bounce off the charged particles like a mirror.
This has a significant impact on how radio signals are transmitted over long distances,
Military interest in the ionosphere is not new but technological advancements has made its manipulation possible.
Changing the ionosphere over enemy territory can disrupt or cut off communication with satellites, a distinct advantage in the event of war or espionage.
Changing the atmosphere has sparked further fears as theorists claim the technology may be used to modify weather patterns, cause natural disasters and even interfere with proper brain function.
Both the US and the Soviet Union developed sites to alter the ionosphere during the Cold War but China has redoubled these efforts and is now building its own.
Purportedly, the advanced facility in Sanya, Hainan will be able to manipulate the ionosphere over the entire South China Sea.
Some have raised concerns that this technology could be manipulated to modify weather and cause natural disasters, although most experts believe this is nothing more than a conspiracy theory,
Extra criticism has come in the shape of claims the radiation could affect the true function of human brains.
Dr Wang Yalu, an associate researcher with the China Earthquake Administration who took part in the study in June, rejected these claims.
‘We are just doing pure scientific research. If there is anything else involved, I am not informed about this,’ she said in an interview.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
December 18th, 2018