Space QUEST: Experiments with quantum entanglement in space Vienna | ESA | ISS In a recent submission to the arXiv,  Zeilinger's group at University of Vienna, Austria has proposed an experiment—Space-QUEST, Quantum Entanglement Science and Technology—for space-to-ground, entangled-photon Bell Inequality violation measurements to verify quantum nonlocality at distances over thousands of kilometers, in a joint operation between the International Space Station and a ground observatory in the European Union.

Entanglement and nonlocality have been pivotal controversies since the birth of quantum mechanics—Einstein's "spooky action at a distance" implies simultaneous, nonlocal correlations between separate entangled particles. J. S. Bell was the first to confirm the phenomenon experimentally in 1964.

Further refinements and increasing precision in succeeding experiments have consistently shown quantum mechanics to be an explicitly nonlocal theory—the outcome Einstein was most averse to accept. However, long-distance relativistic experiments, such as between orbiting satellites, have been technologically cost-prohibitive to date. The paper will be presented at the 2008 IAC Microgravity Sciences and Processes Symposium, under a proposed joint initiative between the European Space Agency and the International Space Station.

"Testing quantum correlations over distances achievable with systems placed in the Earth orbit, or even beyond, would allow to verify both the validity of quantum physics and the preservation of entanglement over distances impossible to achieve on the ground. Using the large relative velocity of two orbiting satellites, one can perform experiments on entanglement where – due to special relativity – both observers can claim that they have performed the measurement on their system prior to the measurement of the other observer. In such an experiment, it is not possible anymore to think of any local realistic mechanisms that potentially influence one measurement outcome according to the other one."

Zeilinger's group has previously conducted proof-of-principle experiments in the Canary Islands with a 144 km free-space link, using an ESA receiver telescope to receive single entangled photons, cf. Nature Physics3:481-486 (2007). A more recent experiment in Italy has demonstrated single-photon downlink communications viability from a near-earth orbit satellite, cf. New Journal of Physics10:033038 (2008).

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