Nicknamed after Chinese scientist'Micius, the quantum satellite was launched in 2016
12 August, 2017, 15:38
China has demonstrated a world first by sending potentially unhackable data over long distances using satellites, which laid out the next generation encryption based on so-called "quantum cryptography".
China is planning to launch more space science satellites in the coming years after the success of planned experiments with the world's first quantum satellite.
This satellite-based technology opens up bright prospects for both practical quantum communications and fundamental quantum optics experiments at distances previously inaccessible on the ground. It sees its satellite system interacting with ground-based QKD networks to create a global secure network.
Quantum Key Distribution system context diagram. Quantum-based computing is secure and relies on laws of physics instead of mathematical encryption. "To increase the coverage, we plan to send satellites to higher orbits and construct a satellite constellation, which requires developing many new technologies".
State news agency Xinhua called the encryption "unbreakable" and that's mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon.
The system works by something called "entangled photons", which are sub-atomic particles of lights that despite being many miles apart, are fundamentally tied to each other.
Xinhua quoted Pan Jianwei, lead scientist of the project QUESS and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), saying the satellite sent quantum keys to ground stations in Xinglong, in north China's Hebei Province, and Nanshan near Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Any attempt to measure their key properties changes them, and by encoding a key to encrypt the data with entangled photons, it's possible to send messages with 100 percent confidence that they have not been interfered with.
Apart from Russia, China is one of America's biggest rivals in space exploration.
The Chinese government has made the development of the space sector a key priority. The tech would also make it far more hard for governments to spy on private communications - something that global leaders and agencies around the world have a vested interest in. "The establishment of a reliable and efficient space-to-ground link for faithful quantum state transmission paves the way to global-scale quantum networks". Let us know what you think in the comment section below!