Time transfer of quantum satellite tested safe

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For the first time in history, trials on quantum satellite – Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) – have succeeded in ensuring safe time transfer, a technology that is fundamental to building safe satellite navigation systems. 

A research team from the University of Science and Technology of China used quantum satellite, nicknamed "Micius" to verify safe time transfer for the first time in history. 

The solutions to time transfer, which are key to navigation and positioning, have involved satellite navigation positioning and optical fiber network, which, however, have drawn growing safety concerns. 

Without a unified yardstick of time, cyberspace, financial areas and energy sectors, including electric powers, will collapse in the face of menacing attacks. 

Despite the current technologies available for time transfer, data tampering and signal deceptions can still put the lifeline of navigation systems at stake. 

However, the single-photon quantum state, which cannot be cloned, enables safe time transfer that can lead to sound signal transmissions. 

According to Pan Jianwei, the program's chief researcher, the team has proposed a satellite-based quantum-secure time transfer scheme based on a technology called distribution of two-way free-space quantum secret keys. The solution enables safe time transfer guarded by secret keys' simultaneous activation through the medium of a single-photon quantum state. 

Throughout the entire process, the classical time data can be encrypted by secret keys that ensure the safety of the transfer. 

Major breakthroughs have been made in key sectors, such as the time transfer of a single photon between the satellite, and the ground, and unsynchronized two-way laser time responder. 

Through those technologies, the precision of the time transfer of the laser pulses, which has been narrowed to 30 per second between the satellite and the ground, has been advanced in terms of international standards. 

Content created in partnership with Science and Technology Daily.

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