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Quantum gyroscope for satellite stability

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By Nick Flaherty


Quantum start-up Q.ANT has teamed up with Bosch, Trumpf, and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in a €28m project to develop quantum gyroscope technology for use in space. 

These quantum sensors should be possible to precisely align mini-satellites and improve global data communication. The planned quantum-based gyroscope (QYRO) should be an alternative to current mechanical gyroscopes and flown on a mission in the next five year.

The Galileo Competence Centre at DLR is supporting the project partners in defining the space requirements for the QYRO payload and implementing it in such a way that the gyroscope can be built for space. The QYRO payload will be validated under real operating conditions in space. 

“This part of the project will provide the results on the question of whether QYRO, and thus quantum-based gyroscopes in general, are suitable for space and, if so, how they compare to commercially available, modern reference systems,” said Harald Hofmann from the Galileo Competence Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen. 

DLR wants to launch the first mini-satellite with quantum technology in five years’ time. Position sensors using quantum effects can be used not only for satellites, but also for automated driving or indoor navigation, for example in factory and logistics halls.

The development of European quantum sensors should strengthen independence from the world market. 

“This strategic partnership shows the potential in the joint development of future technologies. The use of quantum technology in aerospace is a huge opportunity for Germany as an industrial location,” says Michael Förtsch, CEO of Q.ANT. 

The start-up assembles the various components of the sensor and supplies the detection unit. Bosch research is developing a miniaturized measuring cell suitable for use in space. This is filled with an atomic gas, which is stimulated by laser beams and magnetic fields to cause the atoms to rotate. Miniature laser diodes from TRUMPF are used together with the Ferdinand Braun Institute, Leibniz Institute for High Frequency Technology, developed for use in quantum technology and in space. They are then integrated into the housing with additional measurement technology.

The project is part of the “Lighthouse projects of quantum-based measurement technology to meet societal challenges” programme by the German government.

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