ISRO Demonstrates Quantum Communication Over 300 Meters: What Is It And Why Is It Important?


Satellite communication has always been one of the key areas of research and development for space studies. ISRO has achieved a landmark in satellite communication as it has successfully demonstrated free-space quantum communication over a distance of 300 m. India now joins the elite group of significant contributors in quantum communication.

ISRO Demonstrates Quantum Communication Over 300 Meters

ISRO Demonstrates Quantum Communication

The Indian Space Research Organization noted that quantum communication is a huge milestone as it unconditionally secures satellite data communication. India now joins countries like Japan, China, the US, the UK, and Canada that have made significant contributions in the field of quantum communication.

"For the first time in the country, ISRO has successfully demonstrated free-space Quantum Communication over a distance of 300m," ISRO updated on its official Twitter handle. ISRO demonstrated the quantum communication capability using the quantum-key-encrypted signals live via a video conference.

The free-space quantum key distribution (QKD) was demonstrated at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, between two line-of-sight buildings within the campus. "This is a major milestone achievement for unconditionally secured satellite data communication using quantum technologies," ISRO said.

ISRO had developed the required and most necessary equipment, including the NaVIC receiver. The receiver played a crucial role as it aids in time synchronization between the transmitter and receiver modules. Other equipment includes gimbal mechanism systems, which were replacing the bulky, large-aperture telescopes for optical alignment.

ISRO Demonstrates Quantum Communication Over 300 Meters

ISRO set out on Monday night (March 22) to conduct the quantum communication experiment. The procedure was preferred to be conducted at night as it ensured no interface of direct sunlight. "The demonstration has included live videoconferencing using quantum-key-encrypted signals," the premier space agency noted.

What Is Quantum Communication? Why Is It Important?

Going into the details, the Quantum Key Distribution allows us to generate and distribute a secret key that can be used to encrypt or decrypt a message. "The Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology underpins Quantum Communication technology that ensures unconditional data security under the principles of quantum mechanics, which is not possible with the conventional encryption systems," ISRO explained in its updated post.

ISRO Demonstrates Quantum Communication Over 300 Meters

Concepts and phenomena like quantum entanglement help in identifying any third-party between a sender and a receiver. This further helps in securing the data transmission. "The conventional cryptosystems used for data-encryption rely on the complexity of mathematical algorithms, whereas the security offered by quantum communication is based on the laws of Physics," ISRO further explains.

Simply put, quantum cryptography is now considered 'future-proof' as there are no future advancements in computation power that can break these cryptosystems. With such a system in hand, ISRO is set to implement the process for further satellite communication.

The success of the experiment will further pave way for more safe and secure satellite-based quantum communication. The upcoming ISRO missions will have the quantum communication setup to establish contact between Indian ground stations as part of the next experiment. ISRO presently has several projects lined up, including the ambitious Gaganyaan and the Chandrayaan-3 missions.

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