Using a quantum entanglement and a purpose-built satellite, Chinese researchers have managed to teleport photon up to space.

For the first time, scientists have successfully managed to teleport photon from the ground to a satellite in orbit.

Ji-Gang Ren, of the University of Science and Technology of China, and colleagues write that they have accomplished “the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite—through an up-link channel – with a distance up to 1,400 km”.

However, this process did not involve moving the photon in a physical sense. Instead, scientists are transmitting information about a particle; while it sounds exotic, it is routinely used in laboratories on Earth.

Last year, China launched a research satellite called Micius into a sun-synchronous orbit, meaning it passes through the same point on Earth at the same time every day. Chinese scientists then created thousands of entangled pairs of photons and beamed one photon from each pair to Micius. After measuring both photons, they confirmed that 911 on Micius remained entangled with their companions on Earth.

The sky isn’t the limit. Photons are fragile; when they interact with matter on Earth and in Earth’s atmosphere, they lose entanglement. But in the vacuum of space, they can extend infinitely.

Ian Walmsley, Hooke Professor of Experimental Physics at Oxford University, gives us the following explanation:

How it works, its really communicating information in a way that harnesses quantum mechanics. So they have information in one photon that they have on earth and a second photon that is up in the satellite. and they are able to transfer the information from one to another.

Basically, the second photon adopts the ‘identity’ of the first photon, as information is passed from one to the other.

Progress with teleportation captures the imagination. Imagine the possibilities of putting out complex information and objects into the far reaches of space.