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China sends "unbreakable" quantum code from satellite

China sends

For now, they are mostly safe from hacking, but quantum computing would be able to completely change encryption as we know it now.

China launched the world's first quantum satellite, nicknamed "Micius" after a 5th Century Chinese philosopher and scientist, on August 16, 2016.

That time, Pentagon claimed that the launching of the satellite was indeed a "notable advance" move from the Asian country.

Pan Jianwei, lead scientist of QUESS and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said that the quantum satellite provides an experiment window of about 10 minutes when it flies over China. This data is potentially unhackable, thanks to quantum key distribution (QKD) technology. China is embracing this mission and is already taking its quantum communications from the stars back to earth, building a large ground-based network to protect its messages.

One way to improve distribution lies in the protocol of quantum repeaters, whose practical usefulness, however, is hindered by the challenges of simultaneously realizing and integrating all key capabilities.

Today, encryptions are based on traditional mathematics.

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"Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure ... to encrypt (and decrypt) a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel".

The Nature reviewers commented that the experiment was an impressive achievement, and constituted a milestone in the field, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The satellite has a photon receiver, and passes over ground stations at the same time every day, during which times scientists can beam up a stream of photons.

The system works by something called "entangled photons", which are sub-atomic particles of lights that despite being many miles apart, are fundamentally tied to each other. Also, any attempt to measure the message will distort or damage the data.

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

The Chinese government has made the development of the space sector a key priority.

Another approach makes use of satellite- and space-based technologies, as a satellite can conveniently cover two distant locations on Earth. "We can thus envision a space-ground integrated quantum network, enabling quantum cryptography- most likely the first commercial application of quantum information- useful at a global scale".


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