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Quantum weirdness survives space travel

Photons sent to satellite and back maintain cryptography ability

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7:00am, June 5, 2016
telescope

QUANTUM MESSAGES  Scientists used a telescope (shown) to direct photons to satellites and then measure the photons’ quantum properties on their return. The green laser visible in the image is used to track the location of the satellite. The scheme shows that quantum communication in space may be technologically feasible.

In a feat that demonstrates the feasibility of using satellites to transmit uncrackable quantum messages, scientists have measured the quantum properties of photons sent to space and back again.

Physicists beamed the blips of light up to a satellite that reflected them back to Earth. Upon the photons’ return, the team, led by Paolo Villoresi of the University of Padua in Italy, observed a property known as quantum interference. That confirmed that the particles’ quantum traits remained intact over the 5,000-kilometer space voyage. The team reports the advance in a paper to be published in Physical Review Letters.

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