Sending quantum sensors into space could help predict natural disasters


Volcanic eruptions may be anticipated by quantum sensors deployed in space. — AFP Relaxnews

By 2030, the European Union aims to launch the first satellite equipped with a quantum sensor capable of accurately observing the Earth’s geological activity and anticipating volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

The idea is to put an atomic accelerometer into orbit, enabling extremely precise measurements to be made using cold atoms. This is a major technological challenge for Europe, particularly with a view to future missions dedicated to observing climate change in the decades to come.

These quantum sensors, which operate on an atomic scale, pave the way to unprecedented observations, thanks to their extreme sensitivity. Placed in low-gravity orbit, around 600 km from the Earth, they should be particularly reliable.

This technology should make it possible to monitor, with unprecedented precision, the tiniest details of the Earth's movements, from its gravitational field to the monitoring of the water cycle and seismic tremors. In particular, these sensors will help to accurately measure sea levels, ice melt and water reserves in the subsoil.

Ultimately, among other practical applications, the data collected in this way should help to predict catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, as well as to manage the Earth's resources more sustainably thanks to a better understanding of the consequences of climate change.

Partners in this European project, called CARIOQA, are France's Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES), the German Space Agency (DLR), Airbus Defence & Space (ADS), GMV and FORTH/PRAXI Network. – AFP Relaxnews

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