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  • Weekly Takeaways-April 12,2024

    Theme of the Week Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC)The solar eclipse Monday was impressive, but did you ever want to see it from the moon? Well, some day you may. China, US, Europe, Japan, India, and a host of commercial companies, are part of a new lunar space race. And this time around, they aren’t looking to plant a flag. They want to create a new lunar economy, one that isn’t reliant on lunar tourism. This economy would be fueled by creative business plans including: Mining helium-3. Lunar data centers for secure data storage. Extracting and processing water from the lunar poles. Arrays of sensors and telescopes. To fulfill this vision requires a lot of development. Fortunately, we have already been there, and the rockets, satellites, lunar landers, and comm links have already been demonstrated. One critical missing element: a lunar position, navigation, and timing (PNT) system, grounded by a common lunar time standard (see below). It may not seem important; after all, you won’t need directions in your moon buggy any time soon. But that ignores the most critical function of PNT: time and synchronization. Humans care about position and navigation. But our electronics and networks care about time.This is even more critical on the moon, where large infrastructure is harder to transport and install than smaller, redundant elements that work together. Distributed sensors, databases, and comm networks, and robot swarms only work when they are synchronized. Last Week's Theme: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of NTNs Achievements Busy week at another successful Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Preparing a presentation for the Rocky Mountain Photonics Summit & Expo April 18,2024, on "Quantum Time Transfer." Come join us and meet some of the Team. We will be at our table during the EXPO. We will also be looking for new team members so, bring us your resume'. Also looking ahead at presentations and demos at the Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems and European Navigation Conference. Wrapping up a set of deliverables ahead of a May 28 preliminary design review on a funded project. Working to close out contract negotiations on two other projects with the goal of a May kickoff. New IP and partnerships in development. Industry News A major point of discussion at Space Symposium was the growth of new space and the need to address shortfalls: The space economy is expected to grow to $1.8T by 2035, according to the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company. The US Space Command believes that China is rapidly catching up to the US space capability, noting that “For the first time in decades, U.S. leadership in space and space technology is being challenged. The head of the US Space Force warned that the "U.S. now contends with an “incredibly sophisticated array” of threats, such as space-based GPS jammers, anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) and cyberattacks against U.S. ground stations and space assets." There is also concern that China is "actively seeking to displace GPS as the world’s dominant satnav system and, in so doing, to increase its own soft power influence." To address this, the US Space Force released their first Commercial Space Strategy to “integrate commercial space solutions into military architectures wherever possible.” As part of their move to work with commercial space companies, the US Department of Defense (DoD) updated its classification policy on space programs to make it easier "to grant and facilitate classification access to commercial firms that are trying to work with the government." The US Space Force, Air Force Research Laboratory, and Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) released their 2023 State of the Space Industrial Base (SSIB) Report. The US “Defense Quantum Acceleration Act of 2024” bill was introduced, noting that “China has outpaced the Defense Department in terms of investment in quantum technology, dedicating $15 billion over the next five years—or $3 billion a year—as opposed to the $700 million yearly Defense Department investment.” The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a good perspective on Demystifying Quantum: It’s Here, There and Everywhere. An interesting video follows a pilot as he adjusts to “No GPS from Poland to the Persian Gulf.” Conferences Rocky Mountain Photonics Summit & Expo, April 18, Westminster, Colorado-Come join us and meet some of the Team. We will be at our table during the EXPO. We will also be looking for new team members so, bring us your resume'. Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands Assured PNT Summit, May 29 - 30, National Harbor, Maryland IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) 2024, June 9-13, Denver, Colorado Q2B Tokyo, July 19 - 20, Tokyo, Japan International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN 2024), July 29-31, Hawaii, USA Quantum World Congress 2024, September 9 - 11, Tysons, Virginia World Space Business Week, September 16 - 20, Paris, France International Timing and Sync Forum 2024, November 4 - 7, Seville, Spain The More You Know... It has been nearly 55 years since Neil Armstrong first made "one giant leap for mankind."If Neil had stayed there, "Moon Neil" would have aged one extra second compared to "Earth Neil". This is due to gravitational time dilation, which was originally predicted by Einstein in his general theory of relativity that tied space and time into spacetime. In one day, a clock on the moon runs 58.7 microseconds faster than an Earth clock.This may not seem like much. But in that time light travels nearly 18 km, which, if left uncorrected, is a huge impact to your navigation system. This is why the US government dictated the creation of a new Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) separate from our Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) that includes:"1. Traceability to UTC2. Accuracy sufficient to support precision navigation and science;3. Resilience to loss of contact with Earth; and 4. Scalability to space environments beyond the Earth-Moon system"Other groups, including the European Space Agency, are also working on this. But it is a much harder problem than it first seems.The obvious solution is to try to align LTC and UTC, but that is incredibly difficult across 240,000 miles. And even clocks at different locations on the moon's surface vary widely due to its lumpy gravitational field. A sustained lunar presence requires a dedicated LTC and lunar synchronization network.

  • Weekly-Takeaways April 4, 2024

    Theme of the Week The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of NTNs The convergence of satellite and cellular is all the rage lately, enabled by the growth of non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) that fulfill a vision of true global uninterrupted communications.This isn't a new concept though. In the latter part of the twentieth century, satellites were the only option for remote communications. In this "Old Space" era, large expensive satellites were controlled by space agencies, telcos, and multi-national satellite operators.Then along came Iridium with an audacious plan to provide global mobile telephone communications. Unfortunately, this first iteration of the NTN failed badly: “Planned in the mid-1980s, the system was archaic by the time it was deployed in 1998, offering global communications from a brick-size, $3,000 phone at charges from $6 to $30 a minute.”As cell towers and fiber networks expanded in the 21st century, satellite operators pivoted to enterprise and direct-to-home broadcasts (like DirecTV and DISH), backhaul, remote and mobile communications.Then came the New Space era. Nearly 2000 new companies backed by over $1/4T since 2010 transformed the space industry and inspired a new generation of NTNs like Starlink, a resurrected Iridium, OneWeb, O3b mPOWER, Kuiper, Globalstar, and Lightspeed. So what's changed? The cost of satellite systems dropped by orders of magnitude. There are still 2.9B unconnected people across the globe. And, most important, the ubiquity of the internet linking to 18 billion cell phones has created an addiction to connectivity. We now expect it everywhere. The NTNs are still in early stages, but they are already forcing change among traditional satellite operators, and are even starting to make the telcos wary.The other potential disruption: the relationship between government and commercial space (see below). The roles are reversing. Last Week's Theme: "One Satellite Signal Rules Modern Life" Industry News Reports of GPS jamming of airlines are increasing throughout Europe, noting that during the first two months of 2024 there were "985 GPS outages compared with 1,371 for the whole of 2023." Of particular concern is the Baltic region that experienced jamming for 47 consecutive hours affecting at least 1,614 aircraft. GPS jamming is also a problem in the Middle East, forcing flights into Beirut "to use alternatives to GPS to help them land because of jamming and “spoofing”. Another side effect: impacts to dating apps that "suggest hookups between people living in enemy states on two sides of a border that has become an active war zone." The recent news about a Russian “space-based nuclear anti-satellite weapon” is leading to concern about a possible "Space Pearl Harbor." Researchers believe that human existence depends on gravitational waves "that are generated by the accelerated masses of binary stars and other motions of gravitating masses, and propagate as waves outward from their source at the speed of light." Certain elements that are necessary for human life are theorized to have come from "kilonovas" that are caused by gravitational waves. Previously we highlighted the difference between quantum computing, sensing, and communications. Who's going to space first? Quantum comms satellites are already on orbit and space-bound quantum sensors are in development. And quantum computers? Not a chance. We also mentioned the need to set up a separate Lunar Standard Time. The US government agrees. The upcoming eclipse may seem like a rare event, but is actually relatively commonplace, according to this interesting presentation. This particular eclipse is part of the 139th saros cycle that lasts roughly 18 years and has, on average, 42 solar eclipses. Conferences Space Symposium, April 8 - 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado Rocky Mountain Photonics Summit & Expo, April 18, Westminster, Colorado Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands Assured PNT Summit, May 29 - 30, National Harbor, Maryland IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) 2024, June 9-13, Denver, Colorado Q2B Tokyo, July 19 - 20, Tokyo, Japan International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN 2024), July 29-31, Hawaii, USA Quantum World Congress 2024, September 9 - 11, Tysons, Virginia World Space Business Week, September 16 - 20, Paris, France International Timing and Sync Forum 2024, November 4 - 7, Seville, Spain The More You Know... Government and military agencies tend to own their own space assets, but that is starting change. Part of this movement is to increase the resilience of mission-critical space assets "in the face of system failures, environmental challenges, or adversary actions."Up until recently, satellites "were designed for a peaceful, benign environment without a threat."But those days are over - adversaries have demonstrated many ways to knock out a satellite. Today, "resiliency is baked into all the conversations" within the US military as they focus on proliferated constellations of satellites that maintain mission functionality "even if some elements are lost."Stated another way: “We'll put up hundreds and hundreds of satellites…[that] are more affordable than the missiles that you need to shoot them down.”But change is hard. Military planning is built around large and expensive systems that take many years to deliver. So the US Department of Defense released their first Commercial Space Integration Strategy "that will allow for commercial-built space solutions to be used for some operations," the US Space Force is developing their own commercial space strategy, and modifications to NTNs are already under consideration.This is a major shift of philosophy for these groups that realize they need "to take advantage of recent innovations in the commercial space sector, which has experienced exponential growth in technology advancements and capital in recent years."

  • Weekly Takeaways-March 29,2024

    Theme of the Week "One Satellite Signal Rules Modern Life"What if someone knocks it out?Imagine you are a commercial airline pilot on a routine flight when all of a sudden your console alarms start blaring "Terrain ahead! Pull up!"Why are you getting a terrain warning while cruising at 37,000 feet?This Airbus A320 pilot had a scare caused by GPS jamming and spoofing.While this is a well-known problem for advanced militaries, commercial airliners stand no chance. And unfortunately for them, jamming has spread across Europe impacting over 1,600 commercial flights, forcing flight crews to "train to use backup instrumentation."But the main value of GPS isn't navigation - it is time.All networks, communications, financial transactions, and power grids rely on timing from GPS, providing the the majority of its trillions of dollars of economic benefit.If GPS ever failed, sure, it would be disruptive for airlines and Uber drivers alike. But that pales next to the total loss of communications and power.That is scary, and "yet, unlike China, the United States does not have a Plan B for civilians should those signals get knocked out in space or on land."But there is some momentum to change this using commercial solutions. Last Week's Theme: Quantum as a Seven Course Meal Industry News The UK National Timing Centre announced plans to launch a Timing and Quantum Technologies Innovation Node to develop quantum-enabled position, navigation, and timing (PNT). “The interface between the National PNT Office and the National Quantum Office is around delivering to needs for the future...where you have not just the new quantum solutions, but all the equipment that is required to disseminate, monitor and manage PNT services to where they’re needed at the required level of performance.” Another major solar flare glanced the Earth last weekend as experts continue to warn about GPS disruptions. The Lunar Space Race has led the US Space Force to express concerns that "China could be planning to attack US satellites from the Moon." Colorado announced plans to offer tax credits and loan guarantees to quantum startups as part of Colorado’s broader strategy to become the U.S. Tech Hub for quantum technology. South Korea launched the Korea Augmentation Satellite System (KASS) containing a space-based augmentation system (SBAS) as part of their Korean Positioning System (KPS). Quantum satellite development continues: The German Space Agency DLR announced the QUICK3 (QUantum photonIsChe Komponenten für sichere Kommunikation mit Kleinsatelliten) 3U cubesat. SpeQtral announced the development of a Mobile Quantum-Optical Ground Station (Q-OGS) designed to link to their upcoming quantum satellites. How long before quantum computers can benefit society? That’s the $5 million question. Conferences Space Symposium, April 8 - 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado Rocky Mountain Photonics Summit & Expo, April 18, Westminster, Colorado Quantum.Tech, April 24 – 26 2024, Washington D.C. Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands Assured PNT Summit, May 29 - 30, National Harbor, Maryland IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) 2024, June 9-13, Denver, Colorado Q2B Tokyo, July 19 - 20, Tokyo, Japan International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN 2024), July 29-31, Hawaii, USA Quantum World Congress 2024, September 9 - 11, Tysons, Virginia World Space Business Week, September 16 - 20, Paris, France International Timing and Sync Forum 2024, November 4 - 7, Seville, Spain The More You Know... Our concept of time is starting to change as the machines take over.The day, month, and year were originally defined by the position of the sun and moon, which, fortunately, kept a pretty good schedule. Even the "once in a lifetime" April 8 solar eclipse typically happens twice a year - just usually over unpopulated areas.When time doesn't align neatly with celestial events we make corrections. Every four years (except centurials like 1700, 1800, 1900 or those divisible by 400, like 1600, 2000, 2400) we tack on a leap day.And, for the last half century, we have occasionally (18 times since 1972) added a leap second to account for slight changes in the Earth's rotation. More recently, the Earth has been speeding up (possibly caused by the reduction of ice due to climate change), requiring subtracting a leap second. Chart courtesy National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) But the times, they are a-changin'.There is now a recognition that, when it comes to a time standard, our electronics and networks take priority over humans or farmers.These systems don't care about the position of the sun and moon - they need precision and consistency.A jump of even thirteen millionths of a second, much less a whole leap second, has the potential to wreak havoc with networks.So in 2022 timekeeping authorities voted to stop using the temporal tweak, noting that the "introduction of leap seconds creates discontinuities that risk causing serious malfunctions in critical digital infrastructure."

  • Weekly Takeaways-March 18, 2024

    Theme of the Week Quantum as a Seven Course Meal When it comes to quantum technology, there is a common misperception that, while it may seem appetizing, it isn't quite ready to come out of the kitchen.But quantum is being served service à la russe, not service à la française. And the appetizers and salad are already on the table.The amuse-bouche of quantum was already served up in the First Quantum Revolution. Lasers, semiconductors, atomic clocks, and LEDs all take advantage of the bulk quantum properties of materials.We are now in the midst of the Second Quantum Revolution where we are actually manipulating the quantum properties of individual particles for amazing applications. But this new generation of quantum technologies, which fall under three broad areas, are at different stages of maturity; some are ready to serve while others need elusive ingredients: Quantum Computing is a new (but fundamentally different) type of computer that uses quantum bits (qubits) to solve optimization problems (like the famous traveling salesman problem) that are beyond the capabilities of today's computers. Quantum Sensing uses the quantum properties of particles for very sensitive clocks, inertial, electromagnetic, gravity, and magnetic field sensors. Quantum Communications leverages the quantum properties of photons primarily for security applications, including quantum random number generation (QRNG), quantum key distribution (QKD), quantum time transfer, and quantum networking. Of these, quantum computing is the most famous (and gets the most funding) but is arguably the furthest away from commercial adoption. That being said, the potential it has for ground-breaking applications makes it a very compelling dessert.Quantum sensing has been demonstrated but still needs to be fully baked into commercially viable designs and packaging. Their sensitivity to "acceleration, magnetic fields, rotation, gravity and passage of time" could revolutionize our modern world once we get them "out of the lab."Of these, quantum communications is the most mature: QKD and QRNG hardware is already being installed in cell phones and networks around the world to provide quantum-secure communications.The next course to be served: quantum-enabled position, navigation, and timing (PNT). And not just because the tech is nearly fully baked, but because there is a desperate need for something to augment GPS (see below). Industry News News leaked that Russia is considering launching a nuclear space weapon that could potentially be used to wipe out satellites - or space-based electronic warfare (EW). But nukes aren't the only concern to our satellites. The head of the US Space Command warned that China “is growing its military space and counterspace capabilities at breathtaking pace to deny American and allied space capabilities when they so choose." The conflicts in the Ukraine and Middle East are advancing drone warfare as well as the EW to stop them, which is sparking a natural concern about the vulnerability of airlines to EW. As GPS hit its 50th anniversary there are some interesting history lessons from the father of GPS and a look of how it got adopted by the military and surveyors. Conferences Satellite 2024, March 18 - 21, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 8 - 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado Quantum.Tech, April 24 – 26 2024, Washington D.C. Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California Assured PNT Summit, May 10 - 11, National Harbor, Maryland European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands Q2B Tokyo, July 19 - 20, Tokyo, Japan Quantum World Congress 2024, September 9 - 11, Tysons, Virginia World Space Business Week, September 16 - 20, Paris, France International Timing and Sync Forum 2024, November 4 - 7, Seville, Spain The More You Know... When it comes to PNT, the standard is set by GPS and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). They consist of satellites that broadcast their position and time over a RF signal to a receiver. Once the receiver calculates the distance to each of these satellites, it fixes its position and time via trilateration (not triangulation, as is commonly thought).The brilliance of this design has led it to become an integral part of our modern lives, with a GPS receiver for every person in the world. But its limitations are evident: the weak RF signal is easy to jam and spoof, and doesn't work well in urban and indoor environments.So as commercial and government agencies look for alternatives they are focusing on a new batch of quantum technologies that could enable a complementary PNT system.However, there isn't one technology that can address the full breadth of a GNSS - instead they tend to address two different areas: position and navigation, and time.Position and navigation is the most obvious use case for consumers that use GPS for location or ridesharing apps. But surprisingly, it is the least valuable aspect of GPS and the problem that is easiest to solve: AI-linked cameras can be used to deduce position based on local and celestial landmarks. And if you are underwater or in the sky, sensitive quantum sensors can one day resolve position through inertial motion, gravity, or magnetic field.Time, on the other hand, is incredibly valuable - not for you, perhaps, but for the electronics and networks that power the modern world. Atomic clocks have been available for decades and new quantum optical clocks offer the promise of even more stable timing.But there is always a need for synchronizing these clocks. This has spurred a large time distribution infrastructure dedicated to delivering an accurate reference to UTC via GNSS and terrestrial radio stations over RF, network and precision time protocols (NTP and PTP) over ethernet, and optical signals over fiber networks. These all rely on different flavors of time transfer that fundamentally use a signal to transfer time from a reference clock. But now there is quantum time transfer, a new method of using entangled photon hardware developed for QKD applications that promises better accuracy and security than other time transfer methods.

  • Weekly Takeaways-February 13,2023

    Theme of the Week The Year That Was...Once again we look back at notable events from the year past. Happy 50th Birthday GPS! What started out as an experiment in 1973 “to drop five bombs in the same hole” turned into a critical part of our modern life, spawning $2 trillion dollars of economic benefit andover 700 companies. It is now the most critical of all critical infrastructure, providing the ticking heartbeat for all the world's airlines, networks, data centers, power grids, and financial transactions.But that omnipresence is also a problem. 2023 was deemed the "The Year of GPS Jamming and Spoofing," as shown in this time-lapse video of GPS jamming (mostly traced to Russia) that led to grounded flights across Europe. The vulnerabilities of GPS and other satellites led to alarming reports from the Wall Street Journal, US DOD, US Department of Homeland Security, US Government Accountability Office, US Director of National Intelligence, US State Department, European Commission, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Secure World Foundation, Harvard, and the Aerospace Corporation.The Children of GPSThese concerns are spurring a new movement towards independence from GPS.China continued to expand on their ambitious plans to launch a competing network consisting of: BeiDou constellation of 42 satellites with optical links, two-way time transfer, and Global Short Message Communication and Search-and-Rescue Services A “High-Precision Ground-Based Timing System” consisting of 295 sites distributing timing through 20,000 km fiber network Plans to add a 120-satellite low earth orbit (LEO) constellation, Loran-C, inertial sensors, and quantum navigation. In October the UK announced they were setting up a dedicated National PNT Office, and other countries are developing their own GPS alternatives, including Russia's GLONASS, Europe's Galileo, Japan's QZSS, Korea's KASS, and India's IRNSS.The Dark Side of AIArtificial Intelligence (AI) was big news in 2023, and opinions are mixed on whether its ability to generate articles, software, music, artwork, actors, and even companionship is a good thing or a bad thing. But there is one concern that is indusputable: AI's role in increasing carbon emissions from vast data centers that consume more power and water for cooling.It may seem non-intuitive, but we can offset this by offering better timing. Meta and NVIDIA found that a 80x synchronization improvement made distributed databases run 3x faster - "an incredible performance boost on the same server hardware, just from keeping more accurate and more reliable time."The New Space Race2023 was also a big year for space achievements as we approach a decade that saw the birth of 1800 new space companies and launch prices dropping from $50,000 to $500 per kilogram: The launch of the Tiangong space station China and Europe announced new mega-constellations to rival Starlink, Kuiper, Lightspeed, and E-Space. The NASA Psyche asteroid probe breaking a long distance optical communications record by transmitting a video of a cat named Taters over 19 million miles. 2023 also saw the lunar space race accelerating with attempts to land on the moon: April - Hakuto-R, the lunar lander for ispace, a private lunar exploration company, orbited the moon before attempting an unsuccessful landing. August - Luna-25, a Russian spacecraft, reached lunar orbit but suffered an “emergency situation” while attempting to land on the moon. August - Vikram, the lander for India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission, reached the surface of the moon but was lost. October - SLIM, the JAXA lunar lander, arrived at the moon before attempting a landing last month. Development continues on other missions this year, as well as NASA's Artemis missions, Europe's lunar lander, and China's ambitious plans that include the Queqiao-2 lunar communications relay satellite (2024), Chang'e 6 mission (2024), Tiandu-1 and Tiandu-2 navigation and communications satellites (2024), Chang'e 7 mission (2026), Chang'e 8 mission (2028) and International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) (2030s).The Acceleration of Quantum Investment2023 also saw heightened interest in the value of quantum technologies, which the World Economic Forum (WEF) believes "will exponentially accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution" but worries will create a quantum divide. This spurred countries to accelerate their investment in quantum or risk falling behind: The US government signed the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act to develop “encryption strong enough to resist attacks from quantum computers,” with new quantum funding under consideration. New quantum testbeds were announced, including the EPB Quantum Network, the Washington Metropolitan Quantum Network Research Consortium (DC-QNet), the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and NY Quantum Internet Testbed. China leads the world in global quantum funding, quantum satellites, and quantum networks, with some claiming they have a “stunning lead" in quantum and other critical technologies. They launched their third quantum satellite and announced new MEO and GEO quantum satellites. Europe announced two quantum network initiatives, the Quantum Internet Alliance and the HYPERSPACE research project, as well as the EAGLE-1 quantum satellite and a plan for a broadband constellation that will “leverage quantum encryption to secure the network.” UK released their $2.5B National Quantum Strategy. India announced their $730M National Quantum Mission. France launched their FranceQCI Quantum Communications Infrastructure project. Germany released a 3B Euro national quantum plan “Handlungskonzept Quantentechnologien” Australia announced a National Quantum Strategy. Sweden announced their Swedish Quantum Agenda. The Sun is Getting More ActiveWe got some amazing views of northern lights and sunspots in 2023 as solar activity picked up ahead of the upcoming solar maximum, which the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believes “will be earlier, stronger and last longer" than originally predicted. This is causing concern about coronal mass ejections and other solar storms that could "seriously damage parts of our power-distribution infrastructure," and impact "electrical grids, GPS signals, drag satellites out of orbit and pose a radiation risk to airline workers and astronauts. "Last Week's Theme: The Big 5-0 Achievements 2023 was a big year for our team as we commercialize our quantum timing technology invented only five years ago. Some highlights: Development of our Proof-of-Concept (POC) continues. Stood up our Board of Advisors. Received Notice of Allowance for our core patents with additional IP and patents in work. Stood up a UK subsidiary to expand our new business opportunities and partnerships. Marketing and outreach including presentations at: Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems (WSTS) opening keynote: World of Quantum presentation: APSCC panels International Timing and Sync Forum keynote presentation: Q2B 2023 Startup Pitch Competition presentation that won first place in investor judging Podcasts, interviews, and online presentations: “Quantum Optical Communications as a Replacement for GPS” for Space Foundation. “Quantum Time Transfer” for Open Compute Project. “Network Security Post Quantum” for QED-C Quantum Marketplace. "What is the Quantum Internet? And why should you care?" for the Gig City Goes Quantum event. "Quantum GPS" fireside chat for the Art of Tech. The Foundation for the Future podcast. “Quantum Communications Overview” based on our APSCC presentation. Part of the Elevate Quantum team that supported Colorado's bid for U.S. Tech Hub funding for Quantum Technology as part of the U.S. Chips and Science Act Stay tuned for our next Investor Session planned for Thursday, February 29 at 5 pm ET! Webinar registration details coming soon. Conferences Geo Week 2024, February 11 - 13, Denver, Colorado AFA Warfare Symposium, February 12 - 14, Denver, Colorado Q2B Paris, March 7 - 8, Paris, France Satellite 2024, March 18 - 21, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 8 - 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado Quantum.Tech, April 24 – 26 2024, Washington D.C. Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California Assured PNT Summit, May 10 - 11, National Harbor, Maryland ETSI/IQC Quantum Safe Cryptography Conference, May 14 - 16, Singapore European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands Q2B Tokyo, July 19 - 20, Tokyo, Japan Quantum World Congress 2024, September 9 - 11, Tysons, Virginia World Space Business Week, September 16 - 20, Paris, France International Timing and Sync Forum 2024, November 4 - 7, Seville, Spain The More You Know... When GPS hit the half-century mark, the original architects recounted how their initial concepts blossomed into something foundational to our modern lives. From their oral histories emerged a three-part story of the hurdles they had to overcome.Part 1: The TechnologyThe first part of this story was the technology challenges they had to overcome in the analog world of 1973, an era of transistor radios, 8-track tapes, and CB radios, when communications satellites were still a novelty. The team had to develop pretty much everything from scratch: the RF waveform, radiation-hardened satellites, clocks, receivers, and antennas. It took two decades before the system was operational, and today, the GPS constellation provide signals to 8 billion GPS receivers in the world – one for every person on Earth.Part 2: The CriticsThe second part of this story was the internal obstacles the team faced. When GPS was first sketched out in the famous Lonely Halls meeting over Labor Day 1973, the main goal was simple: "to drop five bombs in the same hole." We tend to mythologize that meeting, and the hard work of those original pioneers, but it is important to recognize the second part of this story: they had to overcome a lot of internal resistance. They put their careers at risk to change the leadership mindset from “We don’t need it” to “We can’t live without it”.Part 3: The Unexpected SuccessThe third part of this story is the rise of GPS as critical commercial infrastructure, which is remarkable for one simple reason: that is not the role of the US military. GPS originally was intended only for military use, until three key events: September 1, 1983, the downing of a Korean Air Lines flight by Soviet missiles after drifting into prohibited airspace. The rise of digital networks in the early 1990s that required a timing signal for synchronization. May 1, 2000, when the intentional degradation of the GPS signal for civilian users was turned off. These events opened GPS up to the wider world, making modern society over-dependent on a fragile signal that is 1,000× weaker than your typical cell signal. Even the father of GPS worries that "most significant impact is also probably the most perilous: kids today just take it for granted."

  • Weekly Takeaways-December 19,2023

    Theme of the Week The Big 5-0 Happy Birthday GPS! Fifty years ago, GPS was born and our modern world changed forever.It was a bumpy road at first, but today there is no doubt of the value it has brought society: GPS has spawned nearly $2 trillion dollars of economic benefit and a half trillion dollars a year of revenue for over 700 companies, providing position and timing to 8 billion GPS receivers, one for every human on Earth.GPS was originally envisioned as a military program designed “to drop five bombs in the same hole.”But there was an interesting side effect that no one anticipated in 1973 – the rise of digital communications that needed precision timing. Synchronous optical networks (SONET) protocols were invented in the mid-1980s as a way to use lasers and fiber optics to move lots of data – but, as the name suggest, it needs synchronization.GPS was the only game in town.Since then, the precious timing signal provided by GPS enabled data, communication, and financial networks.But its success was also holding back the improvement needed for future applications like 6G, trusted financial transactions, the quantum internet, and efficient data centers and power grids.When GPS was first developed, there wasn't the extensive terrestrial infrastructure that could provide timing distribution and satellite systems were prohibitively expensive.Today there are over a four billion kilometers of installed fiber optics and 1 billion cell sites globally, and the cost of access to space has dropped two orders of magnitude.Fifty years on, GPS is more valuable than ever - but the newer generation is coming. Last Week's Theme: The Lonely Halls Meeting Industry News Russia is starting to exert its electronics warfare (EW) advantage against Ukraine: "Ukraine discovered in March that its Excalibur GPS-guided shells suddenly started going off-target, thanks to Russian jamming. Something similar started happening to the JDAM-ER guided bombs...while Ukraine’s HIMARS-launched GMLRS long-range rockets also started missing their targets." And drone "losses to Russian EW, which either scrambles their guidance systems or jams their radio-control links with their operators, have at times been running at over 2,000 a week. The smitten drones hover aimlessly until their batteries run out and they fall to the ground." The UK Risk Register added the Loss of Positioning Navigation and Timing (PNT) Services as a significant national risk, noting that: “A loss of PNT services, either due to technological failures or malicious activity, would have catastrophic and cascading effects across the UK and globally." Space monitoring startup LeoLabs claims that Russia and China "seem to be timing potentially threatening on-orbit activities to coincide with US holidays — presumably when fewer American skywatchers are actually looking." The biggest solar flare since 2017 hit the Earth last week triggering “a shortwave radio blackout over Central and South America” and “likely one of the largest solar radio events ever recorded.” The increase in solar activity could impact power grids, networks, satellites – and birds. A recent study suggests that “space weather, including solar storms, can impact Earth by disturbing the geomagnetic field," disrupting nocturnal bird migration. The threats from space aren't just coming from solar storms and gamma rays - there are also cosmic rays. Scientists “detected an ultrahigh-energy cosmic ray with an “energy level of approximately 244 exa-electron volts” that “is approximately one million times higher than what the most powerful human-made particle accelerators can produce.” NASA recently broke their record for long distance optical (laser) communications from the Psyche spacecraft by transmitting valuable data over 19 million miles - a video of a cat named Taters. Conferences GeoBuiz 2024, January 9 - 11, Monterey, California Photonics West, January 27 - February 1, San Francisco, California Q2B Paris, March 7 - 8, Paris, France Satellite 2024, March 18 - 21, Washington DC Space Symposium, April 8 - 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado Quantum.Tech, April 24 – 26 2024, Washington D.C. Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems, May 7 - 9, San Diego, California ETSI/IQC Quantum Safe Cryptography Conference, May 14 - 16, Singapore European Navigation Conference, May 21 - 24 , Noordwijk, Netherlands The More You Know... As GPS passes the half century mark (some credit the “Lonely Halls” meeting on Labor Day 1973 as the birth date, but the official date is the December 17 program approval) you can check out this “GPS at 50” timeline.There are actually two other important dates in the GPS story: September 1, 1983, the downing of a Korean Air Lines flight by Soviet missiles after drifting into prohibited airspace, and May 1, 2000, when the intentional degradation of the GPS signal for civilian users was turned off.These two events opened GPS up to the wider world.But there is a dark side: we are now way too over-dependent on a signal that is trivially easy to jam or spoof."Receiving signals from satellites 20,000 km above Earth is challenging. First, the path loss in receiving signals over that distance requires extremely sensitive receivers, typically to –150 dBm sensitivity, and good antenna placement...By comparison, a smartphone’s receiver usually operates with a signal strength down to –120 dBm, or 1,000× stronger than a GNSS signal."

  • Weekly Takeaways-November 22,2023

    Theme of the Week The Lonely Halls Meeting Over Labor Day 1973 a small group of scientists convened at the now-famous “Lonely Halls” meeting and gave birth to a revolution. Their initial mission - figure out a way “to drop five bombs in the same hole” - led to GPS, a system that is now critical to our modern lives and spawned trillions of dollars of economic benefit. But, hard to believe now, it initially met resistance: “The Air Force never fully backed this system. They wanted it their way, but they didn’t want to pay for it… They were not happy.” So they leveraged the resources that they could muster, putting their careers at risk in the process, working their “way through the morass of “no” logs that they tended to throw in our path.” But their perseverance paid off: “By 1978, the concept was established, and the test results rolled in over the next two years and confirmed our claim of ten meter.” It worked too well, in fact. “The DOD, in its great wisdom, elected to deliberately perturb the satellite timing in a way that makes the ranging accuracy for a civil user less than it can be.” Today, a half century later, we are at a similar crossroad. GPS has become so valuable – and so pervasive – that it represents a single point of failure for modern society. But, ironically, that success has stunted new development. There is a need for something new, leveraging modern technology, to take the “bullseye off of GPS” and build off its success. What is needed is another Lonely Halls meeting. “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” Last Week's Theme: As the World Turns Industry News Air taxi trials are rolling out in New York and other cities, raising concerns about their ability to navigate safely. JammerTest 2023 was completed by Norwegian and other authorities “to assess the impact of jamming and spoofing on satellite navigation systems” with a focus on spoofing. Over two decades ago US officials warned of a “Space Pearl Harbor.” But these concerns are growing based on China’s anti-satellite capabilities which include “dual-use spacecraft capable of rendezvous and proximity operations” that “could yield about 200 rendezvous spacecraft capable of forcibly docking and disabling U.S. critical satellites as early as 2026.” US officials are also concerned about satellite vulnerability to “advanced jamming techniques and illegal satellite uplinks. Our operations are hindered by compromised communication integrity and potential data breaches.” As the sun gets more active, spawning brilliant northern lights and sunspots fifteen times wider than Earth, scientists are working to “better understand increased solar activity that could potentially cause an “internet apocalypse”” And it isn’t just our sun we have to worry about – even a star two billion light years away can wreak havoc: “A powerful blast of gamma-rays that may have been the most powerful cosmic explosion since the Big Bang caused significant disturbance around Earth when it struck our planet.” NASA recently completed the longest optical communications link in history when it “beamed a near-infrared laser encoded with test data from nearly 10 million miles (16 million kilometers) away – about 40 times farther than the Moon is from Earth” between Earth and the Psyche satellite. The More You Know... One of the challenges coming out of the Lonely Halls meeting was the technology necessary to realize their new vision for “lighthouses in the sky.” This include development of the system design, GPS signal, space hardened atomic clocks, digital receivers, and the satellites themselves. A modern day Lonely Halls session can fortunately draw on existing technology, including: Cheap access to space Terrestrial communication infrastructure The golden age of atomic clocks Ubiquitous space-based optical communications hardware Commercial quantum communication systems Many of these developments are direct beneficiaries of the new space revolution. Fifty years ago, satellites were novel and bespoke, and even today each GPS satellite costs over $200M. The new space ecosystem, which was practically non-existent a decade ago, has now blossomed into $272B invested in nearly 1800 companies today. This enabled innovative space systems at a fraction of the "old space" cost and cheap access to space, with launch prices falling from tens of thousands of dollars to a few hundred dollars per kilogram.

  • Weekly Takeaways-November 11,2023

    Theme of the Week As the World Turns Did you remember to “fall back” on Sunday? This antiquated notion of adjusting clocks to accommodate Daylight Savings Time still continues, despite the impacts to people's health and sanity. We no longer need set our clocks to track seasonal events. Instead, our relationship with time has been altered to accommodate those that really care about it – our electronics. All networks, financial transactions, communications, and power grids rely on a common time. In order to efficiently route bits, modern digital networks require incredibly tight synchronization well beyond what is needed by mere humans. In just one nanosecond – one billionth of a second – a 1 GHz processor executes one machine cycle, light travels a foot, and high-speed ethernet delivers 100 bits. And as these networks move even more data, their timing needs to be ever more precise, stable, and constant. Networks don’t take breaks, or care about daylight savings, leap seconds, or time zones. Indeed, any slight discontinuity could be disastrous. Case in point: on January 26, 2016, a timing error of only 13 milliseconds nearly caused a global communication meltdown. So a complex timing infrastructure has emerged that uses a time standard based on atomic transitions (see below), stable clocks, synchronization protocols, and a global time reference provided by GPS. New technology is enabling these advancements - a celestial reference isn't good enough. Last Week's Theme: A Modern Horror Story - Part III Industry News China released an announcement on their plans for future quantum satellites as a follow-on to their groundbreaking Mozi quantum satellite and recent Jinan-1 quantum satellite, the “2030 Quantum Communication and Quantum Computer" project include plans for quantum satellites in LEO, MEO, and GEO orbits to develop "secure communication and key distribution services" and "time-frequency comparisons." In addition they announced plans for "quantum science experimental satellite projects" including "experiments on earth-scale quantum mechanics," "quantum effect testing and gravitational redshift measurement in gravitational fields," "Bell experiments and basic physics the earth-moon orbit" and "space gravitational wave detection, dark matter detection, quantum gravity detection." Not to be outdone, the US National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act was introduced with bipartisan support "to accelerate quantum research and development" and boost "competitiveness against China and Russia." Slingshot Aerospace has been tracking suspicious activity by a recently launched Russian satellite, "raising fresh concerns about espionage in space." It was reported that the Russians installed a GPS jammer to use against Ukraine forces, but had to turn it off so their own forces could use GPS signals. While it was shut off “the Ukrainians blew it up - with a GPS-guided bomb." Ironic. As Russia and Ukraine escalate their efforts to "disrupt or spoof GPS signals,” the US military has been re-evaluating their own strategy. “The war in Ukraine has shown how quickly those capabilities — and means of countering them — have evolved," with an official noting that the US Army had "several projects underway to upgrade its electronic-warfare capabilities, and the war in Ukraine had added "urgency" to those efforts." While much of the world is enjoying unexpected northern lights, they could be signaling a dangerous increase in solar activity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued a watch for a moderate G2-level geomagnetic storm for this weekend following a G3-level geomagnetic storm that hit a few days ago. The More You Know... "There are only 24 hours in the day" - or are there? When the Earth was formed, a day was 10 hours. Then the moon came along, slowing down the Earth's rotation but also causing minute changes to the rotation rate along the way. It was medieval timekeepers that divided up a solar day into 24 equal divisions they called hours. But they based it on the time of transit of the sun, which is different than the time it takes for a full Earth rotation - a sidereal day is actually 23.93 hours. But because the Earth's rotation rate continues to change by a small amount, basing the definition of a second on 86,400 equal divisions of the day means it is also changing! So in 1967 the definition of the second was instead tied to something more solid - the vibrations of the caesium-133 atom. For a while scientists attempted to keep this fixed value of seconds synced with the changing rotation of the Earth, occasionally adding leap seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the international time standard. However, in recent years the Earth's rotation has changed course - instead of slowing down, it is speeding up. Scientists considered subtracting a leap second, but opted instead to scrap the leap second altogether. This decision was partly at the behest of network operators. As mentioned before, sensitive networks cannot accommodate any time discontinuity, much less a whole second. That is why GPS time, the de facto time reference for all networks, never incorporated leap seconds. As a result, GPS time and UTC differ by 18 seconds - and likely will never get reconciled.

  • Weekly Takeaways-October 31, 2023

    Theme of the Week A Modern Horror Story - Part III Our tradition every Halloween is to present a true-life scary tale: You wake up. Emergency and rescue radios are down. Your location app is offline and planes are grounded worldwide. You attempt to go shopping, but the credit card isn't working. The ATM is down, too. As the day progresses both cell and internet service is lost, stores and restaurants are closed, and you can't even get gas. By the next morning the power is out. The cause? GPS is down. If this feels like a retread of Halloweens past, it is. The potential collapse of modern society caused a GPS outage was identified 22 years ago, with fears raised over and over since then. And, like Michael Myers, the threats haven't gone away: Intentional jamming in Ukraine, Israel, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Panama Canal. Increasing solar activity (see below). Anti-satellite missiles that could blow up GPS and commercial satellites. Counter-space weapons that provide plausible deniability, including jamming and laser dazzling, kidnapper satellites that can “seize control of a satellite, “nesting doll” satellites, and other rendezvous satellites. Not everybody is standing idly by against these threats: China developed BeiDou as a response to their “Unforgettable Humiliation”, and recently announced plans to develop a "High-precision Ground-Based Timing System." India's plans to develop IRNSS was triggered by “US denial of GPS during the Kargil Conflict in 1999.” Europe developed Galileo to address concerns that 10% of their GDP relies on a system with “inherent shortcomings which could be compromised by a malicious actor.” The UK recently announced their Position, Navigation and Timing framework which "includes a crisis plan in the event current PNT services are unavailable." Other GNSS developments include Russia's GLONASS, Japan's QZSS, and Korea's KASS Meanwhile, the US is preoccupied with "admiring the problem." Happy Halloween! Last Week's Theme: The Alchemy of Light Presenting at the International Timing and Sync Forum this week, and attending the UK PNT Leadership Seminar next week. Industry News The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) predicts that the next solar maximum “will be earlier, stronger and last longer than estimates made in 2019.” This is a concern as “geomagnetic storms triggered by plasma outbursts known as coronal mass ejections can affect electrical grids, GPS signals, drag satellites out of orbit and pose a radiation risk to airline workers and astronauts.” The WSJ also notes that a large solar event could "seriously damage parts of our power-distribution infrastructure," knock out the repeaters in fiber optic cables, and damage satellites. The US Army has responded to the GPS jamming in Ukraine by initiating a PNT Assessment Experiment to put "emerging and established tech through the wringer." According to the director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team: “Across the board, GPS isn’t the only game in town. You have to have other capabilities to achieve [assured positioning, navigation and timing].” The future for quantum in space could include satellites with "hyper-sensitive quantum accelerometers, gyroscopes, and clocks, navigating the solar system with unmatched precision....miniaturized quantum sensors, working in unison to image exoplanets, map asteroids, and detect elusive dark matter. Space telescopes harnessing quantum optics to peer back to the very origins of our universe with clarity exponentially beyond present capability...quantum communication channels spanning vast cosmic distances, weaving a web of connectivity between planets and space settlements. Beams of entangled photons enabling teleportation of massive amounts of data across the void. Cryptographic keys distributed via satellite securing our space-based infrastructure from the threat of computational attacks." Conferences ITSF, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Antwerp, Belgium UK PNT Leadership Seminar, Nov 7, London, UK The More You Know... Entanglement is Spookier than you Think Everybody knows Einstein's famous quote calling entanglement "spooky action at a distance." It registered his disbelief at the apparent "non-local" action of entanglement. Einstein favored the idea that hidden "local variables" are at work instead of these non-local effects. But clever experiments based on the work of John Stewart Bell seems to prove otherwise. Now known as the Bell inequality, it seems to prove that local hidden variable theory is incorrect, or at least incomplete. But even spookier yet is the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser - the crazy experiment that seems to show that future events can impact the past. It starts with the famous double-slit experiment first performed in 1801. When light is shown through a double slit, an interference pattern emerges on the other side, suggesting that light acts as a wave. But then Einstein came along in 1905 and found that light is made up of discrete energy packets - photons. A few decades later we could recreate the double-slit experiment with individuals photons. And this is where things got truly spooky. When you fire a bunch of photons through a double-slit, you get the same interference pattern. No surprise there, as Thomas Young showed in 1801. If you fire them one by one, instead of en masse, you can see them land on the other side. But keep firing more in sequence and the familiar interference pattern emerges. Huh? What are they interfering with? Wait - it gets even stranger! Then scientists found a way to detect which slit the individual photons went through. When they did this, the interference pattern disappeared - instead the photons went to one side or the other, depending on which slit it went through. Just the act of detecting which path it went down eliminated the interference pattern. Hold on - it gets even more strange! In a very clever set of experiments called the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser, scientists figured out a way to detect, using pairs of entangled photons, which path a photon took through a slit well after the partner photon hits the wall. And the interference pattern, or lack of it, matched whether the photon path was unknown or known. It was as though the future event (detect or not detect) was predicted by the pattern shown in the past! How? Why? If you can figure that out, "there is a Nobel Prize waiting for you." To learn more, please email us or schedule a meeting here.

  • Weekly Takeaways-October 26,2023

    Theme of the Week The Alchemy of Light In the olden days, alchemists were obsessed with turning lead into gold. They did not understand that lead and gold were different atomic elements. Today's scientists can actually make that conversion - but only with sophisticated manipulation at the atomic level. The same advancement is happening with the building blocks of light – the photon (see below). Throughout history light was easy to create - all you need is fire or a hot glowing material - but wasn't well understood. That changed in 1905 when Albert Einstein proposed the existence of discrete (quanta) energy packets of light that he called Lichtquanta, later named the photon. Thus was born the world of photonics, which led to the development of lasers and fiber optics. Unlike normal light sources, lasers created coherent (orderly) streams of photons of a specific wavelength for sensing and transmitting information and energy. And the evolution continues as we get more sophisticated in actually creating and manipulating the quantum properties of individual photons, a field broadly known as quantum communications. Today you can buy sources of single and photon pairs (transmitter), single photon detectors (receiver), and the equipment necessary to manipulate their polarization, time and energy. This can be used to generate truly random numbers, securely exchange random encryption keys, and even transfer time. And it opens the door to incredible new pie-in-the-sky applications like quantum radar, quantum imaging, quantum telescopes, and the quantum internet. But it is early days for the world of quantum communications - there are applications yet undiscovered. If you are interested in learning more about the difference between quantum communications, sensing, and computing, check out this presentation. Last Week's Theme: Security through Quantum Mechanics Colorado was announced as a U.S. Tech Hub for quantum technology (check out this promotional video), with support from the Xairos team, including being part of: The Elevate Quantum team contributor to the proposal The Colorado Quantum Convening with the Colorado Governor last month The quantum delegation to Finland last year Awarded a Colorado Advanced Industries grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development Preparing for presentation at the International Timing and Sync Forum titled "Quantum Time Transfer." Stay tuned for a recording of the presentation! Industry News Colorado was awarded U.S. Tech Hub funding for Quantum Technology as part of the U.S. Chips and Science Act. So you think the light from Deneb had a long journey? The James Webb Space Telescope has found a star, Earendal, that has that beat by roughly 28 billion years. GPS jamming in Israel is expanding as the Israel Defense Forces announced that GPS was “restricted in active combat zones in accordance with various operational needs." The New York Times article "Quantum Tech Will Transform National Security" highlights developments in China: "With its centralized method of funneling billions of dollars to military-affiliated universities, China has produced results that have nearly matched or exceeded the American approach." NASA's Psyche satellite that was launched to rendezvous with an asteroid on October 13 also contains a deep space optical communications payload. Conferences ITSF, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Antwerp, Belgium UK PNT Leadership Seminar, Nov 7, London, UK SLUSH, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Helsinki, Finland The More You Know... If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, straight up into the night sky is a bright star named Deneb. While it may look like a small twinkling dot of white light, it is actually made up of millions of individual packets of light, known as photons. And these photons from Deneb have been on quite a journey – formed hundreds of thousands of years ago and traveled another 2600 years just to reach your eye. Your eyeball actually has the capability to detect a single photon – the original single photon detector – but it needs to receive many photons at once to send a signal to the brain – more like an avalanche photodiode. But if you could see an individual photon, you would notice it isn’t white. That white twinkling star is an illusion created by a combination of photons of many other colors based on their wavelengths. That color/wavelength dictates the energy of the photon, and its speed if it travels through a medium (like the atmosphere, water, or the glass of fiber optics). While photons of all colors travel the same speed in the vacuum of space, they slow down when traveling through any material. This particular photon was likely created by the release of energy from Deneb’s nuclear reactions, only for that energy to be absorbed by your eye in that moment thousands of years later. Such is the life cycle of the photon. To learn more, please email us or schedule a meeting here.

  • Weekly Takeaway-October 20,2023

    Theme of the Week Security through Quantum Mechanics One of the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics is the Observer Effect. All small particles are in a superposition of many quantum states, but, once measured, "one knows its current state ." Most believe this is due to wave function collapse, but there are other interpretations. It is as though the full details of the quantum information is hidden within a box. You can measure one (and only one) property, but you can never "peek inside" and gain complete information. This quirk of quantum physics is the foundation for the security inherent in quantum communications, including the secure distribution of encryption keys known as quantum key distribution (QKD). It also lends itself well for secure time distribution, a critical resource for position, navigation and timing (PNT), networks, communications, and power grids. Time distribution today relies on easily hackable satellite RF signals and network time protocols (NTP). Indeed, security for timing doesn't exist the same way it does for encryption keys. But as the recent news articles below highlight, that needs to change. Last Week's Theme: The Future is Optical Participated in the APSCC Lunar Space Race and optical communications panel. A recap of our recent presentations: “Quantum Optical Communications as a Replacement for GPS” for Space Foundation “Quantum Time Transfer” for Open Compute Project “Network Security Post Quantum” for QED-C Quantum Marketplace "What is the Quantum Internet? And why should you care?" for the Gig City Goes Quantum event "Quantum GPS" fireside chat for the Art of Tech Preparing for presentation at the International Timing and Sync Forum titled "Quantum Time Transfer." Stay tuned for a recording of the presentation! Industry News The conflict between Israel and Hamas has, not surprisingly, seen an increase in GPS jamming in the region. This has led to flight disruptions in Israel, according to the Israel Airports Authority. GPS spoofing around the middle east has led to aircraft "being targeted with fake GPS signals, quickly leading to complete loss of navigational capability," with aircraft "almost entering Iranian airspace without clearance." Russian GPS jamming around Ukraine has hindered ships navigating in the Black Sea, leading a Romanian government official to express concern that "Romania’s infrastructure or commercial ships in (Romania’s) territorial waters could be hit by mistake.” The UK announced a "Framework for Greater Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Resilience" recently, noting that PNT services "are vital for the UK economy, Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors and wider society." These disruptions and other vulnerability concerns have led the Wall Street Journal to claim that "America’s ‘Gold Standard’ GPS Risks Falling Behind Rival Systems" including the Chinese BeiDou system that "blankets the planet with 46 operational satellites, outnumbering the 31 satellites that the U.S. says serve GPS." Conferences ITSF, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Antwerp, Belgium UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase 2023, Nov 2, London, UK SLUSH, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Helsinki, Finland The More You Know... If Alice wants to share a secret with Bob, she can put the information in a box and send to Bob. Eve, the eavesdropper, wants to know what is in the box. In normal communications, Eve simply looks inside. The information is compromised, and Alice and Bob are none the wiser. But now Alice has a box containing a particle in a superposition of quantum states. While you can't know all of the quantum details of this particle, you can extract information following these fundamental rules: You can measure one, and only one, quantum property. This is analogous to asking a question: For example, you can ask about color ("are you black or white?") or you can ask about hardness ("are you hard or soft?"), but you can't ask about both ("are you white and soft?") The outcome is repeatable - if you measure the same property. For example, if you ask about color a thousand times in a row, you will get the same answer - black or white. However, the outcome is not repeatable - if you don't measure same property. For example, if you find out the color is white, but then ask about hardness, the next time you ask for the color it could be white or black. These fundamental rules, proven out in many experiments, is described in this entertaining presentation based on the book "Quantum Mechanics and Experience." So in this case Eve still has the ability to intercept the box meant for Bob. Eve can only ask it one question, but won’t know what question to ask. If the wrong question is asked, then the outcome changes for Bob. We can extend this extremely simple example to QKD (apologies to all quantum physicists!): Alice and Bob exchange many boxes, each one potentially representing one of a string of bits that make up a shared encryption key. While this sounds like a convoluted process, it has an important result that doesn't exist in any other type of communications - the ability to detect Eve by looking at the results from a sample of the boxes. To learn more, please email us or schedule a meeting here.

  • Weekly Takeaways-August 31,2023

    The Future is Optical The Internet Age was enabled by the profound transition from analog to digital. At the dawn of the Internet Age, there was an important transition from analog to digital communications. The Internet Age was enabled by the profound transition from analog to digital communications. Slicing up a waveform into discrete bits heralded incredible advancements in the ability to transport large amounts of data. It also enabled communications to move from electrical pulses over wires (a technology that dates back to the telegraph in the 1800s) to moving data over light. The first laser and fiber optics were built in the 1960s; today lasers carry 95% of the world’s data and are being integrated onto chips. A similar revolution is happening with time. The very definition of a second is moving from a microwave to an optical standard. But modern networks don’t need just one clock – they need a network of accurately synchronized clocks. So it makes sense that these clocks are synchronized with time transfer over optical links, which is fundamentally more accurate and secure. Within local fiber networks this move has already started, but at the global scale time distribution still relies exclusively on RF signals from global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). (well, almost exclusively - see below) A new global optical time distribution system is needed. Last Week's Theme: AI's Dirty Little Secret Industry News At the recent DEF CON conference the US Air Force invited teams to hack a small satellite in a Hack-A-Sat competition, resulting in one team winning the $50,000 prize. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a brief highlighting potential foreign intelligence risks to the US commercial space industry, warning that “foreign intelligence entities might attempt to steal technology assets and intellectual property.” Amid these concerns the US Space Force has stood up the 75th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (ISRS) “dedicated to targeting other nations' satellites and the ground stations that support them.” The Department of Energy (DOE), who maintains oversight of America’s energy infrastructure, has identified eight critical applications that rely on timing from GPS. To solve this problem they stood up a Center for Alternative Synchronization and Timing (CAST) to develop best practices for timing within electrical grids and published “Implementing a Terrestrial Timing Solution: Best Practices.” The US Small Business Administration (SBA) announced a new program to provide billions of dollars to venture capital funds “aimed at increasing investment in U.S. startups…for capital intensive industries and those critical for national security.” A huge increase in GPS jamming has been seen in the Middle East lately. Conferences APSCC, October 10 – 12, KL, Malaysia ITSF, Oct 30 – Nov 2, Antwerp, Belgium UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase 2023, Nov 2, London, UK SLUSH, Nov 30 – Dec 1, Helsinki, Finland The More You Know... A decade ago, there was only one option for global time distribution: GPS. Now there are a lot of options: Galileo in Europe, BeiDou in China, GLONASS in Russia, QZSS in Japan, IRNSS in India, KASS in Korea, ANGA in Africa, and commercial solutions. They all share the same basic design that utilizes one-way RF time transfer. But there is one exception: China's BeiDou system. They announced plans to add optical links and recently conduced "inter-satellite and satellite-ground station experiment using using lasers rather than the usual radio signals" that "could increase satnav accuracy by a factor of 6 to 40 by synchronizing the satellites’ atomic clocks with laser beams." China also announced plans to develop a high-precision integrated space-ground timing system using optical time transfer. Their plans for a "High-precision Ground-Based Timing System" includes setting up 295 time and frequency transmission sites across China to distribute their time standard over fiber networks to synchronize power grids, communication and finance networks.

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