Science

China's quantum satellite just sent back unbreakable code from space

China's quantum satellite just sent back unbreakable code from space

The satellite that went into Earth's orbit aboard a Long March-2D rocket was part of a test to prove the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics at space.

In a major step towards building a hack-proof global quantum communication network, China has sent an unbreakable code from its quantum satellite to the Earth, marking realization of quantum key distribution technology for the first time.

China launched the world's first quantum satellite, Nicknamed "Micius", on 16 August past year, to help establish "hack proof" communications.

China envisions a future with ground-based QKD networks and a global satellite system interacting to form a powerful, worldwide secure network. According to commentators, while typical encryption relied on traditional mathematics and while for now it was more or less adequate and safe from hacking, the development of quantum computing threatened that. QKD uses photons to transmit data, allowing two users in different places to, together, produce a common string of random bits called a secret key.

The Nature reviewers commented that the experiment was an impressive achievement, and constituted a milestone in the field, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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Pan Jianwei, lead scientist of QUESS and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said 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. QKD uses photons the particles which transmit light to transfer data.

Any attempt to eavesdrop on the quantum channel would introduce detectable disturbances to the system, he added.

China is still lagging behind the United States and Russian Federation when it comes to space technology.

"Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibers are sufficient and convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 km".

"Once intercepted or measured, the quantum state of the key will change, and the information being intercepted will self-destruct", Xinhua said. By 2030, China hopes to achieve its ambitious dream of establishing a global cryptography-based communication network. Let us know what you think in the comment section below!


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