|Charissa Echavez |||Aug 17, 2016 07:33 AM EDT|
(Photo : YouTube Screenshot) China's quantum-enabled satellite is called Mecius.
China has successfully launched the world's first quantum-enabled satellite named Micius on Tuesday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Chinese state media reported.
The 600-kilogram satellite, which got its name from an ancient Chinese philosopher, was aboard a Long March-2D and blasted off into space at 1:40 a.m. The project, officially called Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), is aimed at testing a technology that would make digital communication hack-proof.
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According to BBC, the satellite works by creating pairs of tiny sub-atomic particles of light called entangled photons, beaming one-half of each other down to base stations in China and Austria. Of the many properties that this laser possesses, it is capable of carrying "the observer effect," in which its quantum state cannot be observed without alternating it. Therefore, if the satellite encodes an encryption key in the quantum state, any obvious interception would change the key, turning it useless.
Quantum technology has been included in China's five-year economic development plan. In fact, although Beijing refused to divulge how much money it allocates for quantum research, funding for basic research that includes quantum physics amounted to an estimated $101 billion last year, up from just $1.9 billion a decade earlier.
If the satellite works, the quantum technology could be utilized to communicate confidential diplomatic, government, and military data, with future applications such as secure transmission of personal and financial data as well as key military applications, The Sydney Herald Morning reported. It could also become a solution to the problem of encrypted communications.
"Quantum computing is largely seen as the next big thing in communications," Marc Einstein, Director of the Information Communications Technology practice of Frost and Sullivan, Japan, said, citing safe transmission of credit card data as a potentially early application. "There are millions of applications. Some people say quantum computing could change everything."
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