Quantum Technology and Its Effective Use in Space
Ever evolving quantum technology is helping advance technology in space research and development.
Over the passing years of tech and digitization, every topic related with space has always fascinated us. Every one from a six-year-old to a sixty-year-old looks at the sky and winders what might be up there? Space exploration has evolved in the years and quantum technology is helping us unleash so many more secrets untold about space beyond the sky we see.
The main problem is the extremely long distance that makes communication extremely difficult. Quantum Technology i.e.,the principles of quantum physics, in the form of entangled photons and satellites are capable of making space communication a lot faster and easier. This type of a communication method allows high-definition photographs and videos to be sent on a faster and a more efficient pace. This later would result in the expansion of space exploration hence improving the space travel experience where the astronauts could communicate with the experts on earth very easily.
The Space Measurement
Can we measure the earth’s dimensions? The shape and other properties of earth like the gravity, geodesy etc? Measuring the earth’s shape is not an easy task but quantum technology can make it a lot easier. In December 2020, NASA proposed to use quantum sensors i.e., quantum technology to study earth in a better and efficient manner. These quantum sensors rise up from a concept called as the “quantum interferometry”. Interferometry is a measurement technique looking at an interference on background noise that is used to extract data. Even in an audio recorder, have an interference on them. Many researchers are looking at these interferences to learn more about them. For the quantum interferometry, researchers are looking at the interference of quantum states to develop accurate quantum sensors. This is extremely helpful in giving accurate measurements of our earth’s gravity and its magnetic field without any noise from any sort of other magnetic fields or gravity sources.
In speaking for the context of these improvised sensors using quantum technology, Dr Mauro Paternostro of Queen’s University Belfast quoted “it will be a game-changer, particularly for sensing and measurements. The development of new detectors with quantum-limited sensitivities and quantum-enhanced strategies for measurements, metrology, and sensing will allow exploring new physics and physical mechanisms and will enable experiments that are currently either prohibitive or impossible on the ground. We will end up with a much more resolved picture of the fundamental pillar of nature”.
Quantum in Space Societies
Now that the application of quantum physics to space travel ad exploration has increased, the number of groups interested in this topic also increased. Like the ‘QTSPACE’ or the Quantum Technologies in Space. “QTSpace is an action of COST, a European funding organization that promotes and supports networks addressing research & innovation. It started from an initiative of myself, Angelo Bassi (University of Trieste, Italy), Hendrik Ulbricht (University of Southampton, UK), and Rainer Kaltenbaek (University of Vienna, Austria, and Ljubljana, Slovenia). We all had interests in the development of quantum technologies, the study of the foundations of quantum theory, and understood, back in 2015, that an incredibly fertile avenue was the one pointing to space. However, there was no large-scale community working on this topic, and we were conscious that such an ambitious goal could only be possible through trans-national efforts. So, we decided to set up a COST action to initiate a much-needed work of community-building. Thus, QTSPace was born.” Explained the Vice- Chair of QTSPACE, detailing about its inception.
The prominent concept that QTSPACE proposed to the world is ‘Quantum Space Network’. This would engage all the relevant stakeholders in Europe who are keen in funding and researching about these applications of quantum technology. Bassi, the chair of QTSpace, mentioned other activities that the group has worked on: “In its 4 years of life, QTSpace organized over 20 workshops, schools, conferences, and other meetings, engaging hundreds of scientists. Two significant outputs were the ‘Strategic Report for ESA and the National Space Agencies’ issued in 2017, and the ‘Policy White Paper on Quantum Technologies for Space,’ issued in 2019, which laid the foundations for the development of quantum technologies in space. They are now used by stakeholders and policymakers to define future actions and funding initiatives.”
Bassi is also accredited to be a contributor to the Quantum Technology Flagship, a group that was established by the EU to focus on researching quantum technology and its entire applications. Bassi and Paternostro discussed extending quantum encryption to the communications between space and earth in the 2019 policy paper. In this paper, both Bassi and Paternostro stated that “quantum encryption will be a crucial element of the quantum internet at the planetary scale and beyond.”
The application of the concept of quantum technology in space will definitely lead to a potential development of quantum, internet with utter secure connections between the the two parties. Paternostro states that“People are already talking of a quantum internet, which will only be possible through the use of up-links and down-links leveraging on space”.
Putting in a nutshell, as quantum technology rises, so does our understanding on the universe and the earth.