China Successfully Sent the First Unhackable Messages with the Quantum Satellite


China succesfully tested its first quantum satellite launched in space

China launched a ‘quantum satellite’ into space which, presumably, could send messages hard to hack. These messages are encrypted using quantum mechanics, so this is why they are so difficult to decode. Their first attempt was successful, and the satellite sent such an encrypted message even if it was situated at a huge distance from Earth.

  • China launched a quantum satellite in space in August 2016.
  • The satellite sends encrypted messages which are impossible to hack.
  • This technique also works on large distances.

This hack-proof technique consists of sending two different photons which are highly entangled to two separate base stations, which are placed far away from each other. The technique behind this entanglement overcomes typical computing. Therefore, when a photon is intercepted, it changes completely, and hackers cannot use it.

Scientists had thought of using this technique to encrypt messages, but they suspected the technique would work only on short distances. However, this experiment proved that it a quantum satellite could send such messages to stations situated 1,000 kilometers from each other.

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A quantum satellite is equipped with a laser which is responsible with transmitting the entangled photons to the two base stations. Also, photons are particles of light at a subatomic scale. As expected, one half of the entanglement is sent to one station, while the other half is sent to the other station.

What is special about the photons is the fact that they exhibit the observer effect. More precisely, if some tries to intercept them, they immediately change their quantum status. Therefore, if someone else tries to unlock the message, it changes and becomes impossible to decode.

China launched the quantum satellite in August 2016 and, since then, has performed several experiments. This is the first time when they prove such a message encryption is effective. As the research showed, quantum messages can be decoded only by the intended recipient, and the technique works on a large surface as well.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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