Researchers develop mobile quantum satellite ground station

January 13, 2020 // By Rich Pell
Researchers develop mobile quantum satellite ground station
Chinese researchers have reportedly developed what they say is the world’s first mobile quantum satellite station, which weighs about 80 kg (176 lb) and is small enough to fit in or on top of a car.

The portable ground station for sending and receiving secure quantum communications, say the researchers, was successfully connected to China’s Quantum Science Satellite - nicknamed Mozi - which was launched in August 2016. The researchers used the mobile station along with a 28-cm (11-inch) telescope to send a secure data transmission using quantum key distribution (QKD) from Jinan in northeast China.

QKD enables two parties to produce and share a random secret key - known only to them - that can be used to encrypt and decrypt information, and with which any attempt by a third party to gain knowledge of the key will be detected. A key was relayed via Mozi between the mobile ground station in Jinan and a fixed station in Shanghai.

The mobile ground station transmits data at a rate of between 4000 and 10,000 bits per second, say the researchers, compared with about 40,000 bits per second for larger stations.

The researchers say they plan to launch a quantum nanosatellite in the next two years, targeted at commercial clients. "We want more and more users to use quantum keys to protect their important information,” says Ji-Gang Ren at the University of Science and Technology of China.

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