Sending Quantum Sensors to the Moon with Q-CTRL
(AzoQuantum) Q-CTRL has announced that it will be providing quantum sensors to aid space exploration. The sensors will be sent into earth orbit, to the Moon, Mars, and possibly beyond, marking the first time quantum sensing and navigation systems have been used for space exploration.
Q-CTRL will work in conjunction with Fleet Space Technologies, a nanosatellite start-up and founder of the SEVEN SISTERS consortium, which will load the sensors aboard their sophisticated satellites.
Sustainability is the watchword for future space missions, so making the leap to long space stays requires finding as many ‘in-situ’ resources as possible. The quantum sensors — including quantum-based gravity detectors and magnetic field sensors will search for mineral deposits and liquid water from a nanosatellite located above the lunar surface.
Gravity-based sensors can detect tiny changes in a gravitational field of a planet or a moon that indicate a change in density. This, in turn, could indicate the presence of mineral deposits or even liquid water.
Whilst the most advanced standard gravimeters currently available work by the ‘bobbing’ of a tiny mass — usually a silicon chip — quantum variations use atomic interferometry to measure tiny variations in gravitational field strength.
This means, that at the heart of Q-CTRL’s system is a cloud of atoms trapped in a vacuum chamber¹. A laser is used to place the atoms in a superposition that can be described by a wavefunction. Whilst in this superposition an atom can simultaneously have two energy levels — one ‘low’ and one ‘high’.
Q-CTRL says that their focus on engineering founded on quantum phenomena results in applications that weren’t possible just a few years ago. Biercuk predicts that the geospatial intelligence services the start-up is developing will ultimately find widespread use in defense and even climate change mitigation.