Quantum Technology for Mars Expeditions, the applications of cutting-edge computing in expanding our world

Quantum Computing And Mars

Humans have long dreamt about exploring and colonizing Mars. One of the most difficult tasks is simply getting humans over the 34 million miles of space between Earth and Mars. However, it is inevitable that there have been few proofs about Mars over the past century that points out the slight possibility of attaining microscopic life in the future.

Over the years, NASA has conducted several missions, and test flights to the neighboring planet ever since the 1960s. Early missions consisted of flybys, with spacecraft frantically taking pictures as they passed. Later, probes were launched into orbit around Mars, and more recently, rovers and landers have landed there.

However, sending a spacecraft to Mars is difficult, and landing on the planet is considerably more difficult. The thin Martian atmosphere complicates descent, and more than 60% of landing attempts have failed. Several major industry players have taken part in these missions, including NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), all four have put spacecraft in Martian orbit.

And just in 2002, the multi-billionaire, Elon Musk, launched his very own private Space company called Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), with the objective of revolutionizing space transportation and eventually allowing people to dwell on other planets. SpaceX is a California-based American spacecraft builder, launcher, and satellite communications company. Launching the most advanced rockets and spacecraft in the world, SpaceX is currently pushing the boundaries of space technology with its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft.

What we know about SpaceX’s Falcon 9

One of the promising spacecraft built is the SpaceX Falcon 9, it is a reusable, two-stage rocket that can carry passengers and payloads reliably and safely into Earth orbit and beyond. The first reusable rocket of the orbital class is called Falcon 9. Reusability enables SpaceX to relaunch the rocket’s most expensive components, lowering the cost of space access.

The Falcon 9 tanks are built of an aluminum-lithium alloy, which is stronger and lighter than aluminum thanks to the inclusion of lithium. Two enormous tanks, each capped with an aluminum dome, contain liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) engine propellants inside the two stages.

Historically, stage separations and engine failures have been the leading causes of launch failures. Thus, Falcon 9 is designed to have a basic two-stage. With nine engines in the first stage, Falcon 9 is capable of successfully completing its mission even if one of the engines fails. The interstage is a composite structure constructed of carbon fiber sheets and an aluminum honeycomb core; this connects the first and second stages and houses the release and separation system. The Falcon 9’s payload is delivered to the target orbit by the second stage, which is propelled by a single Merlin vacuum engine; it is also built of a high-strength aluminum-lithium alloy and employs much of the same tooling, materials, and manufacturing procedures.

… and Dragon Spacecraft

Dragon is a reusable, free-flying spacecraft designed to transport cargo and, eventually, humans into space. . Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and safely return to Earth in May 2012, a feat previously accomplished only by governments. Dragon completed its second flight to the ISS in October 2012, the first of 12 official cargo resupply missions for NASA.

Dragon possesses the world’s most effective heat shield. It was created in collaboration with NASA and is made of PICA-X, a high-performance variation of NASA’s original phenolic impregnated carbon ablator (PICA). PICA-X is designed to resist heat rates from a lunar return mission that are substantially greater than those required for a low Earth orbit mission.

The 18 Draco thrusters on Dragon allow for orbital manipulation and attitude control. NTO/MMH storable propellants are utilized to power the 90 lbf (400 N) thrust that controls the approach to the ISS, the power departure from the ISS, and the attitude control of the Dragon during re-entry.

Dragon’s avionics system is designed through dual fault-tolerant computing, which is capable to deliver continuous real-time backups to all important avionics components, resulting in one of the most dependable designs available. RIOs (remote input/output modules) are a type of computing platform that includes programmable input and output control cards. This architecture simplifies manufacturing and ensures the dependability of the components.

How Quantum Computing Technology can be integrated into Space Exploration?

Artificial intelligence tasks frequently use machine learning methods. The processing capacity of quantum computers is anticipated by engineers in the aerospace sector and many other industries to significantly enhance computer modeling and simulation.

Remote space habitats, unmanned spacecraft, and autonomous rovers all need to make intelligent judgments with little to no human input. A radical new strategy is required if AI is to make a significant advancement. One such method is quantum computing.

Quantum Simulation

According to the researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center (QCC), software for aircraft systems is among the most strictly regulated and certified software to build and integrate across all significant technical industries since it is safety-critical. And according to Lockheed Martin, is a global security and aerospace company, primarily focused on the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services, make a lot of work to ensure that the software for aircraft systems is accurate. The company further believes that quantum computing technology could enable software engineers to accomplish feats like quickly debugging millions of lines of software code and tackling challenging computational issues in the aerospace industry.

Digital modeling and simulation are one application that the company is looking at using quantum computing for. A quantum computer could represent every atom of air flowing over a wing at all angles and speeds in a matter of weeks as opposed to the years it currently takes engineers to model the process.

“Aviation software applications that are designed to aid in the routing and scheduling of aircraft, and doing so in the most cost-effective way, calculating how much fuel is required for a commercial aircraft to arrive at an airport or even at a waypoint through its flight plan, these are the types of problems that quantum computing can aid. Machine learning is another area that is huge and it has huge potential in the commercial sector as well as in defense,” said Tallant.

Greg Tallant, Lockheed Martin fellow and lead for USC’s QCC

Quantum Communication

The reliance on satellites, and more broadly on space, is critical for the smooth operation of our daily lives in an increasingly connected and digitalized civilization. Because of the constraints and challenges that the present generation of technologies confronts, authorities have been urged to invest more in promising upcoming technologies such as quantum technologies.

The transmission of quantum information between distant endpoints is the basis of quantum communication (QC). One of its potential applications is quantum key distribution (QKD), which will enable long-term secure communication while fending off the threat posed by quantum computers to the widely used asymmetric encryption.

The expansion into space will be required to establish networks of remote nodes. Essential quantum secure solutions have already been envisioned and partially created in Europe, but much more is required in Europe for more advanced, ubiquitous applications, such as daylight QKD and research programs.

Quantum Sensors

For the comprehension of climate change, hydro- and biosphere evolution, as well as tectonics and earthquake prediction, gravity field mapping from space is essential. Coherent quantum matter waves are used as test masses in quantum gravity sensors, resulting in equipment that is much more sensitive and accurate. Better Earth resource monitoring and earthquake and severe climate change effects, such as droughts and floods, forecasting will be made possible by space-based quantum sensors.

As the industry begins to work on the creation of cold atom payloads, new terrestrial sensors and commercial spin-offs have benefited from space activities and will continue to do so. Atom interferometers will enable high-precision gravimetry, enabling highly accurate Earth observation. However, they will also offer a flexible new instrument for studying other celestial bodies like the Moon or Mars utilizing gravimetry.


Quantum technology will enable a wide range of new uses in space applications, particularly, with the current ongoing mission of colonizing Mars. Current limitations of the traditional computing used in aviation systems will most likely be addressed through the application of quantum technologies, specifically, through quantum communication, quantum sensing, and quantum simulation.

Thus, in line with SpaceX’s mission to revolutionize space transportation and eventually colonize the neighboring planet, Mars, the integration of quantum technologies will help achieve this goal. Incorporation of quantum sensors to achieve more favorable observations on the composition of Mars through the use of Atom interferometers. And the concept of quantum communication, together with its Dragon’s fault tolerant system will also strengthen its communication and navigation capabilities, providing more security to its astronauts.