By Hamish Johnston in Beijing
A few weeks ago China launched the world’s first “quantum satellite” from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, which about 1600 km from Beijing. This morning I met the lead scientist on the mission, Jian-Wei Pan of the University of Science and Technology of China, who is visiting Beijing on his way home to Hefei from Jiuquan.
I asked Pan how the mission (called QUESS) was going, and in particular if his team has managed to get the satellite to send entangled pairs of photons back to Earth. He said we would have to wait for the team to write a paper about the satellite’s initial performance – so let’s just say he was in a very good mood! Stay tuned for more information about this pioneering mission that could lead to quantum communications in space.
After he left us, Pan was on his way to speak to primary school children in Beijing about physics. Amazingly, we were able to watch his presentation on live television a few hours later. It seems Pan is a star here in China.
He is certainly a star of the world of quantum communications. Indeed, Pan shared the Physics World Breakthrough of the Year 2015 for his work on the simultaneous quantum teleportation of two properties of photons.
• For more on physics in China, check out our brand new Physics World Special Report: China.