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Today communication with different spacecraft is limited to speed-of-light. Around the Earth it is not such a problem, but when you have to work with a spacecraft on the surface of Mars, it becomes an issue one has to contend with.

Is there any science or engineering research ongoing in this field?

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    $\begingroup$ There is research going on, certainly, but this is more of a physics question. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ And, in physics, ALL current research indicates that FTL communication is impossible. Hence there is no ongoing research to achieve it. $\endgroup$
    – hdhondt
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ FTL communication is not impossible, violation of the locality is. Microscopic wormholes can be facilitated for FTL communication. But they are theoretical for the moment. At best we are smashing stuff together and one day we might get lucky. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 8:28

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No, not really.

Faster-than-light communication is currently strongly believed to be impossible. Due to relativity, it would imply time travel (that is, messages could be sent back and forth in such a way as for replies to arrive before the originals were sent), and thus violate causality, leading to situations in which, for example, an action causes a chain of events leading naturally to that action becoming impossible to have happened. Presumably the universe does not allow paradoxes of this sort to arise.

Quantum mechanics describes certain situations (having to do generally with entanglement) in which certain phenomena occur that a naive observer (well, anyone that isn't fully up on the bizarre and counter-intuitive quirks of quantum physics) might take to mean information is being transmitted faster than light. Unfortunately, this is not actually the case: while there are physical effects that occur instantaneously over very long distances, they cannot be observed in a way that transmits information faster than correlating information can be transmitted at light speed. This is well-known to be quite confusing:

The no-communication theorem states that no communication about the no-communication theorem can clear up the misunderstanding quickly enough to allow faster-than-light signaling.

The few researchers that are looking into things like FTL communication are generally pretty far on the fringes.

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  • $\begingroup$ To add on the entanglement idea: The problem with entanglement is, how would you transfer information. Not only would you need to contain the particles to be with the sender and the reciever (to be used later, which might be rather difficult) which would definitely change their properties by an unknown amount. You would also need to know how the particle would change when you alter one property to transmit information - which you can't know due to uncertainty. $\endgroup$
    – Adwaenyth
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Adwaenyth: The first problem has already been at least partly solved in the fields of quantum computing and quantum encryption, the latter of which does successfully use entanglement in the process of transmitting information. However, it requires photon transmission in real-time to do the job of correlation. (The only thing entanglement adds is the guarantee that no one else can have read the message, as that would irretrievably corrupt it.) The second problem is the one that is strongly believed to be impossible to get around. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 7:26

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