21 November 2017 Applications of quantum entanglement on a ISS-spaceplatform
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Proceedings Volume 10567, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2006; 1056727 (2017) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2308046
Event: International Conference on Space Optics 2006, 2006, Noordwijk, Netherlands
We proposed tests of quantum communication in space, whereby an entangled photon Source is placed onboard the ISS, and two entangled photons are transmitted via a simultaneous down link and received at two distant ground stations.
Ursin, Jennewein, Tiefenbacher, and Zeilinger: Applications of quantum entanglement on a ISS-spaceplatform



Quantum entanglement [1] is at the heart of quantum physics. At the same time it is the basis for novel quantum communication schemes, such as quantum cryptography [2,3,4]. Bringing quantum entanglement to the space environment will open a new range of fundamental physics experiments, and will provide unique opportunities for quantum communication applications over long distances. We proposed tests of quantum communication in space, whereby an entangled photon Source is placed onboard the ISS, and two entangled photons are transmitted via a simultaneous down link and received at two distant ground stations [5,6], see fig 1. Furthermore, performing a series of consecutive single down links with separate ground stations will enable a test of establishing quantum cryptography even on a global scale. This Space-QUEST proposal was submitted within ESA’s OA-2004 and was rated as ‘outstanding’ because of both, a novel and imaginative scientific content and for technological applications of quantum cryptography respectively.

Fig. 1.

Our proposed quantum communication experiment involves the ISS and two optical ground stations. Entangled photon pairs are simultaneously distributed to two earth-bound locations thus enabling both fundamental quantum physics experiments and novel applications such as quantum cryptography.


We intend to explore the possibilities to send, receive and manipulate single entangled photon pairs using telescopes, reflectors and high-power lasers over a distance of some tens of kilometers up to 100 kilometers experimentally [8], see fig 2. A distance of approx. 10 kilometer would already correspond to one atmospheric equivalent and would thus imply the feasibility of installing a ground to satellite link [6]. We are already collaborating with European Space Agency ESA and partners from industry (Contraves, Tesat), to investigate and outline the accommodation of a quantum communication terminal in existing optical terminals for satellite communication. We are also investigating the experimental requirements for an optical ground station as a receiver or transmitter in quantum communication schemes to and from satellites.

Fig. 2.

Entangled photon pair experimental payload. The sourc of entangled photons together with the two telescopes and the electronics unit is shown here.


Free-space quantum communication has recently become an intensively studied field [9, 10, 11, 12] promising fundamental tests of quantum entanglement over increasing distances as well as the secure exchange of cryptographic keys. The experiments carried out so far are terrestrial free-space quantum communication links with fixed transmitter and receivers, and have successfully increased their working distances up to 144 km [13], between the canary island La Palma and Tenerife usinf the optical ground station (OGS) of European Space Agency (ESA).





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© (2017) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Rupert Ursin, Rupert Ursin, Thomas Jennewein, Thomas Jennewein, Felix Tiefenbacher, Felix Tiefenbacher, Anton Zeilinger, Anton Zeilinger, } "Applications of quantum entanglement on a ISS-spaceplatform", Proc. SPIE 10567, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2006, 1056727 (21 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2308046; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2308046

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