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11 August 2017, 08:26 | Bernard Bryant
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The country's first-ever quantum satellite has transmitted potentially unbreakable data from space to Earth for the first time.
China has sent an unbreakable code from its satellite to the Earth, laying the foundation for building a hack-proof global quantum communication network, official media said on Thursday.
Last August, China launched a quantum satellite into space, a move which was called a "notable advance" by the Pentagon. Quantum key technology is used in quantum communications to make eavesdropping impossible and to perfectly secure the communication. It should be noted that in July this year, Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology in China's eastern province of Shandong was reported to have built the largest "unhackable" computer network in the world. The goal is to create an even broad, secure network, potentially linking people anywhere in the world.
This technology has given us the most promising solution for global-scale quantum key distribution through satellites. Quantum-based computing is secure and relies on laws of physics instead of mathematical encryption.
"QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key".
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Nicknamed "Micius", after a fifth century BC Chinese philosopher and scientist credited as the first person to conduct optical experiments, the 600kg satellite sent quantum keys to ground stations in China between 645km and 1,200km away. QKD uses photons the particles which transmit light to transfer data.
According to the system's designers, the system will self-destruct and the quantum state of the key will change if intercepted and measured.
China still lags behind the United States and Russian Federation in space technology, although President Xi Jinping has prioritized advancing its space program, citing national security and defense. However, the Chinese government has already made space development one of its top priorities.
"Satellite-based quantum key distribution can be linked to metropolitan quantum networks where fibres are sufficient and convenient to connect numerous users within a city over 100 km".
China is also developing the homegrown Beidou navigation network as an alternative to the US-run Global Positioning System.
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