The Michigan Engineer News Center

Student works on a NASA quantum satellite link

ECE master’s student Conner Stevons completed a remote internship at the NASA Glenn Research Center where he worked on Marconi 2.0, NASA’s plan to bridge quantum technology with a telecommunications system. | Short Read
IMAGE:  Conner Stevons.

ECE master’s student Conner Stevons spent the summer interning remotely at the NASA Glenn Research Center. His project focused on analyzing components of a potential quantum satellite link, which NASA is calling Marconi 2.0.

“We’re sending quantum technology into space,” said Stevons.

Combining many quantum satellite links can form a complete network that resembles today’s telecommunications system but is more secure and reliable due to the unique capabilities of quantum technology. The components of Marconi 2.0 must be modeled and simulated before implementation. This involves creating, translating, and editing existing code to increase the accuracy of the models, which seek to predict how quantum communications links may function in real time.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this opportunity is to actually make a contribution to a real NASA project within quantum technology,” Stevons said. “Really, the most exciting part of this internship is to virtually meet so many others that are also extremely enthusiastic about space exploration, technology, and beyond! It is an amazing atmosphere to be enveloped in.”

The project is part of the Space Communications and Navigation Internship Project (SIP) at NASA, which allows students to perform hands-on training with real mission scenarios, gain exposure and analyze powerful space communication systems, utilize networks software tools, and effectively communicate their findings in a final presentation to NASA management.

“This internship was a great way to combine my love for physics, engineering, quantum technology, and the excitement I have for space exploration,” Stevons said.

EnlargeSplit screen: Alvin (left) and Conner (right)
IMAGE:  Stevons speaking with former NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew during his 2020 virtual internship.
Split screen: Alvin (left) and Conner (right)
Hayley Hanway


Hayley Hanway
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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

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