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Physical Sciences Research Program

Deep Space Quantum Link (DSQL)

Active Technology Project
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Project Description

This image shows the gravitational potential energy crossed by different line of sights from a moon orbiting spacecraft to Earth.

Quantum optical communications is an emerging space-based technology that could potentially increase the information capacity of communications networks significantly and provide fundamentally secure communication links between trusted nodes within the network using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). The Deep Space Quantum Link (DSQL) will develop the  technology to perform pioneering experiments on gravitational effects on quantum systems, test the basic assumptions of quantum theory, and demonstrate QKD at deep space distances.


The scientific objectives of the DSQL is to test the coupling of General Relativity, the physics most often associated with cosmology, with Quantum Field Theory, the physics of wave-like particles.  The DSQL will perform three experiments.
Experiment A will study the effects of different inertial reference frames on Quantum Teleportation from the DSG to the ISS or to the ground.
Experiment B will test for violations of Bell's inequality using quantum teleportation to lunar distances, more than two orders of magnitude longer than previous tests.
Experiment C will establish a simple quantum communication link from the DSG to the ISS or to ground stations and evaluate the influence of a curved space time on communications.

A Science Definition Team (SDT) was recently selected to aid JPL/NASA in determining the science objectives for the DSQL and the key technologies required for its implementation. The SDT consists of members from University of Illinois, Harvey-Mudd College, University of Maryland, University of Toronto, Canada, and University of Bremen, Germany. The SDT will also draw on expertise as needed from interested researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Max Planck Institute, Germany, University of Ulm, Germany, Leibniz University, Germany, and the National university of Singapore.

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