Recently, French and German space agencies have been officially approved to develop the Carioqa project, with plans to load quantum accelerometers on satellites by 2030, aiming to accurately map the Earth’s gravity from space. This will make it possible to predict earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and assess global water supply changes.Space Quantum Sensors
Quantum accelerometers can measure different acceleration phenomena in an extremely precise manner, such as the mass motion of the various parts that make up the Earth. These ultra sensitive instruments have played an important role in mining research, but they still cannot provide a global perspective. If the problem of quantum sensors working under microgravity conditions can be solved, it will be possible to map the global gravity intensity, thereby better measuring the Earth’s gravity changes related to earthquakes and sea level rise.
The Carioqa project was initiated by the French National Center for Space Research (CNES) and the German Space Center (DLR), with funding from the European Commission and participation from 17 European partners. Christine Farley, the project leader of CNES in France, stated that sending quantum sensors into space is a “world first” initiative.
To detect precursor signals of earthquakes, quantum sensors can capture the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates at depths from space. Currently, scientists only know how to measure this movement on the surface, and it occurs after an earthquake. Satellite quantum sensors will be able to continuously monitor earthquake risk areas on a global scale.
Another application of this plan has been extended to monitoring water mass movement in situations such as ice melting, heavy rainfall, floods, and more detailed observations of sea level rise related to water mass increase and global warming, which are crucial for monitoring and understanding climate change.
In the first demonstration phase, the quantum sensor designed by Airbus Defense and Aerospace will be placed in an orbit at a distance of 500-600 kilometers from the ground. The sensor will operate using laser operated cold atoms. The measurement time in a weightless state will be longer than on Earth, which can greatly improve the sensitivity of the sensor.