TIME Innovation

How Quantum Computers Are Prepared for Hackers

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Your passwords — and everybody else’s — won’t stand a chance against a hacker with a quantum computer.

By Dan Goodin in Ars Technica

2. Is China the new Spanish Empire?

By Jacob Soll in Politico Europe

3. The earned income tax credit keeps millions out of poverty. Leave it alone.

By the Editors of Bloomberg View

4. NASA wants to stop hitching rides to space with Russia.

By Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden in Wired

5. Google has a secret interview process — and it starts with your Google searches.

By Max Rosett in the Hustle

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

This Material Can Heal Itself in Less Than One Second

An extra precaution for astronauts

Researchers have developed a new material that can heal itself when punctured, according to an American Chemical Society news release.

The material is made by inserting a liquid with a “key ingredient” in between two layers of a solid polymer. When the solid layers are penetrated and the liquid is released, the key ingredient reacts with oxygen to quickly form a solid plug. A video of the researchers testing the material by shooting a bullet through it shows that it fixes itself in under a second.

This research, funded by NASA, could help prevent damage to spacecraft, and perhaps even save lives. The International Space Station is the most highly protected spacecraft to ever exist, equipped with bumpers that destroy debris before it has a chance to hit its walls. However, in those conditions, it’s extremely reassuring to have a backup plan just in case the bumpers fail.

The researchers made sure to mention that this technology could be applied to other structures as well, such as automobiles.

Watch the self-healing material in action:

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME A Year In Space

How Astronauts Dock at the Space Station

Need a lift? A Souyz spacecraft after undocking from the space station on June 11, 2015
NASA Need a lift? A Souyz spacecraft after undocking from the space station on June 11, 2015

A wee-hours maneuver of a Soyuz spacecraft is critical for keeping things safe

One of the trickiest questions for a Soyuz spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (ISS) is where to park. The ISS may be larger than a football field, but it’s got only so many ways to get inside, and with crewed spacecraft and uncrewed cargo ships regularly shuttling up and down, docking ports—or at least the right docking port—can be at a premium.

In the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 28, space station astronaut Scott Kelly, along with cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, will be required to do a bit of delicate flying to sort just that kind of problem out.

The three crewmen arrived at the station on March 29, with Padalka slated to spend six months aloft, and Kelly and Kornienko scheduled for a marathon one year in space. They docked their Soyuz spacecraft at the station’s Poisk module—a 16-ft. (4.8 m) Russian node that was added to the ISS in 2009 as a science lab, observation point and egress compartment for astronauts embarking on spacewalks. It’s remained there ever since, and that’s a concern.

The five-plus months the ship has been hanging off the station in the alternating searing heat and deep freeze of orbital space can take its toll on the hardware, and since the crews rely on the ships as their way back to Earth, NASA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, instituted a rule: 180 days is the maximum amount of time a Soyuz can remain aloft before detaching and returning to Earth. But Kelly and Kornienko are set to stay for 365 days—which complicates their ride home.

MORE: TIME is producing a series of documentary films about the record-breaking mission to space. Watch them here.

Their Soyuz is not the only one that’s on hand. There’s another one for the other three crewmembers who are currently aboard. (Another NASA-Roscosmos rule: there must always be enough seats for everyone to be able to bail out immediately in the event of an emergency.) And on September 2, a third ship, carrying three more crew members, is set to arrive for a changeover of personnel. Not all docking nodes are equal—the Poisk is a better target since it faces Earth—and that requires a little juggling. Mission rules—to say nothing of basic physics—make the job a delicate one.

At 3:09 AM EDT, the complete Padalka-Kornienko-Kelly team will climb fully suited into their Soyuz. Technically, it does not take all three men to do the job. Padalka, who is one of the most experienced Soyuz pilots extant, has joked that he could fly the thing with two cabbages in the other seats. But in the event of Soyuz emergency requiring an immediate reentry, all three men must be aboard—lest a solitary pilot come home, leaving five people aboard the ISS and only three seats on the remaining Soyuz.

The crew will then undock from the Poisk and re-dock to the nearby Zvezda module, or service module—a straight distance of only a few dozen yards. But these kinds of orbital maneuvers require care, with both the station and the Soyuz orbiting the Earth at 17,133 mph (27,572 k/h) but moving just a few feet or inches at a time relative to each other.

“They’ll undock, then back out 200 meters or so,” says NASA TV commentator and overall space station authority Rob Navias. “Then they’ll fly around to the back end of the service module, do a lateral translation, fly retrograde, then move in for a docking at the aft end of the module.” If that sounds like an awfully complicated way to say, essentially, that they’ll back up, turn around and pull in at another door, it’s less techno-babble than it is a reflection of the complexity of even the most straightforward maneuvers in space.

Two of the newly arriving crew members will be only short-timers, staying on the station for just 10 days. They’ll then fly home with Padalka in the older ship, leaving the fresh one for Kelly, Kornienko and another crew member six months later.

The ISS may be the most complicated job site on—or off—the planet, but it’s one that could proudly display a sign reading “14 years without an accident.” Playing by all the workplace safety rules will help keep that record going.

TIME A Year In Space

See the Best Photos From an Astronaut’s Fifth Month in Space

Astronaut Scott Kelly just passed the five-month mark in his yearlong stay aboard the Space Station. Here is a collection of the best photos he's snapped so far

TIME is following Kelly’s mission in the new series, A Year In Space. Watch the first two episodes here.

MORE: See more photographs from Scott Kelly’s yearlong mission in space here.

TIME 3-D printing

NASA Just 3-D Printed Part of a Rocket

Cygnus Spacecraft Launches from Pad-0A
NASA—Getty Images A NASA rocket.

It's more efficient than traditionally produced rocket parts

NASA is getting closer to 3-D printing a rocket engine.

The space agency announced Wednesday that it had built a turbopump using a 3-D printer. The device, which is designed to boost the power of an engine, is one of the most complex rocket parts ever designed with a 3-D printer.

According to NASA, the 3-D printed turbopump has 45 percent fewer parts than a turbopump made via traditional methods. The device is able to power a rocket engine capable of generating 35,000 pounds of thrust and is able to survive in an environment where fuel is burned at greater than 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

NASA is also 3-D printing injectors and other engine parts in order to make the production of future spacecraft more efficient.

Here’s a video of the 3-D printed fuel pump in action:

TIME climate change

Sea Levels Are 3 Inches Higher Than They Were in 1992

Stormy ocean water
Getty Images

"It's very likely to get worse in the future."

A panel of NASA scientists said Wednesday that new data shows sea levels are, on average, three inches higher than they were in 1992 due to melting ice from both mountain glaciers and the polar ice caps, as well as warmer oceans.

The data was collected from NASA satellites. NASA also released a video that shows a visualization of rising sea levels.

The changes are concerning and “it’s very likely to get worse in the future,” Steve Nerem, a University of Colorado geophysicist and a member of the panel, said in a conference call, Reuters reported. In 2013, a United Nations panel reported sea levels were projected to rise between 1 and 3 feet by 2100; the NASA panel said data indicates the level rise would be on the higher end of that projection.

The sea level change is an average; in some areas, sea levels rose more than 9 inches, and in others—such as along the West Coast, sea levels are falling.

Scientists warn that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet; ocean currents and weather cycles have actually offset some sea level changes in the Pacific, which means the West Coast could see a huge jump in sea levels in the next 20 years.

The panel warned that forecasting the melting rate of the polar ice caps is nearly impossible. And even if the pattern were to stall and reverse, it would take centuries to return to original pre-climate change levels.

 

TIME space

See the Massive Mountain on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ceres Dawn Mountain
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres on Aug. 19, 2015.

It's just a bit shorter than Mt. Everest

Very small worlds can do very big things—providing you’re willing to grade on a curve. Take the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt, which is currently being orbited by the Dawn spacecraft. Ceres is just 591 miles (952 km) across—or 73% of the size of Texas—with only 3% of Earth’s gravity. If you weigh 150 lbs. here, you’d weigh 4.5 lbs. there.

But Ceres has a mountain—and it’s a whopper, as evidenced by this latest image sent home by Dawn, orbiting at an altitude of 915 miles (1,470 km). The mountain stands 4 miles (6 km) tall—a bit shorter than Mt. Everest, which tops out at 5.49 miles (8.83 km). But context is everything. A 4-mile-tall mountain on a tiny world like Ceres is the equivalent of a 49.8-mile-tall (80.1 km) mountain on Earth, or nine times taller than a pipsqueak like Everest. The Ceres mountain is not terribly active—at least as evidenced by the absence of debris at its base—but it is scored by a bright streak running down its side, which suggests some kind of dynamic processes at least in the past.

Every pixel of the Dawn image represents 450 ft. (140 m) of Ceres’ surface, which is already an impressively granular resolution. In the future, the spacecraft will approach the surface at just 25% of its current altitude, improving image detail dramatically. Whatever secrets Ceres is keeping Dawn may soon reveal.

[time gallery-id=”4003903″]

TIME Music

Watch One Direction Become Astronauts in the New ‘Drag Me Down’ Video

The boy band takes over NASA's Johnson Space Center

One Direction has officially gone to space in the video for their latest single “Drag Me Down,” and former fifth band member Zayn Malik definitely wasn’t on board.

The four members of the hit boy band are seen running around NASA’s Johnson Space Center in preparation for their “space mission.” At the end of the video, the quartet strap into a special space shuttle while NASA’s staff cheer them on from the control room.

If only real astronauts got to ride around the space center in open-air vehicles while crooning pop love ballads, drinking coffee with robots and strutting in orange space suits with their hair blowing in the wind.

TIME space

Here are the Most Heart-Stopping Photos of Saturn from the Cassini Mission

As the spacecraft completes its final flyby of Saturn's moon Dione, TIME reflects on the most spectacular images from the mission thus far

TIME space

See Cassini’s Haunting Final Images of Saturn’s Moon Dione

The spacecraft made its final flyby of the mysterious moon on August 17

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com