China Launches the First Unhackable Quantum Satellite

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 - 11:42AM
Technology
Space
Tuesday, 20 June 2017 - 11:42AM
China Launches the First Unhackable Quantum Satellite
Image credit: NASA

After launching "Micius," the first quantum technology satellite into space, China is about to realize quantum entanglement communications (QEC). What does that mean? Well, QEC offers both instantaneous communications and complete protection from interference. In short, it is theoretically unhackable (even by Mr. Robot). 

To accomplish this, a team of researchers had Micius beam pairs of entangled photons farther than ever before. Ben Buchler, a physics professor at Australian National University, said, "In terms of quantum communications and satellite technology, certainly the Chinese are in front." Now, while quantum computing might be advancing and exciting both experts and enthusiasts, quantum communication is still a relatively new concept.

Rocket containing the world's first quantum satellite launches. Image Credit: China.org.cn 


So, why is quantum communication supposedly more secure and "hack-free"? Well, when the information you are sending is based in subatomic particles, as is the case in quantum communications, both the sender and the recipient can arrange these particles according to a secret 'key' or code that allows only them to understand the message. If a hacker attempts to intercept or decode the message while it's in transit, they will disturb the particles, which will immediately alert both the sender and recipient. Here's a video that explains the science behind quantum entanglement:


China is clearly not cutting corners in the race to secure communications. Our credit cards, our education, our personal messages, our governments, and so much more depends on our ability to maintain secure communication lines. And, while the idea of beaming down entangled photons from space and having to access all of our information with keys and codes might sound a little strange, this technology could really be the answer to our security concerns. 

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