Experiment into quantum communications is heading to the ISS

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A tiny, milk-carton-sized experiment quickly to be put in on the Worldwide House Station (ISS) may characterize the way forward for communications, enabling quantum computer systems to speak with one another over huge distances. The experiment, referred to as House Entanglement and Annealing QUantum Experiment (or SEAQUE), shall be launched to the ISS later this 12 months.

As computer systems get sooner and house initiatives collect an increasing number of information, we’ll want sooner communication networks to ship all of that information again to Earth. NASA is at present within the strategy of upgrading its Deep House Community to dishes that may use laser-based communications, which provide the switch of knowledge round 10 instances sooner than present radio-based communication programs. However future quantum computer systems will want even sooner quantum communication networks, and that’s what SEAQUE is investigating.

SEAQUE shall be hosted on the Worldwide House Station by the Nanoracks Bishop airlock. The blue-and-gold brackets connected to the facet of the airlock are for exterior payloads. The expertise demonstration shall be put in at a kind of websites. NASA

SEAQUE will have a look at whether or not communications may very well be achieved over massive distances utilizing entangled photons. “SEAQUE will show a brand new and never-before-flown entanglement supply primarily based on built-in optics,” stated Paul Kwiat, the undertaking’s principal investigator on the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in a press release. “Such a supply is inherently a lot smaller, extra strong, and extra environment friendly at producing photon pairs than the majority optic entanglement sources utilized in earlier house experiments.”

One other facet of expertise being examined by SEAQUE is whether or not communication nodes can “self-heal” if and when they’re broken by radiation. This can be a drawback for a lot of space-based applied sciences which should function exterior of the Earth’s protecting magnetosphere and so are uncovered to house radiation. The delicate detectors utilized in SEAQUE shall be degraded over time by radiation, so included throughout the unit shall be a laser which is able to periodically restore this injury.

“Demonstrating these two applied sciences builds the inspiration for future world quantum networks that may join quantum computer systems situated tons of and even 1000’s of miles aside,” stated Makan Mohageg, SEAQUE co-investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The SEAQUE experiment shall be connected to the surface of the Bishop airlock on the ISS, which is a industrial airlock operated by the Nanoracks firm. The corporate can even function the mission in partnership with NASA. The launch of the experiment is scheduled for no sooner than August this 12 months.

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