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 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.

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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

TIME space

See a Newly-Released Image of Saturn’s Moon Dione

Saturn Moon Dione Cassini Farewell
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/EPA A visible light image of Saturn's moon Dione captured with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 11, 2015 and released on Aug. 17, 2015.

Despite the high-resolution images Cassini sent back, Dione remains a mystery to scientists

NASA released this never-before-seen image of Saturn’s moon Dione as the Cassini spacecraft said goodbye to it on August 17. Photos of the final encounter are expected to reach Earth in the next few days.

Cassini was the first spacecraft to enter Saturn’s orbit, and for the last 11 years, it’s been studying the planet and its many satellites including Dione, Titan and Rhea. Cassini will now make a series of close moon flybys until late 2015, at which time it will begin a year-long setup of the mission’s daring finale, NASA said, when it will repeatedly dive through the space between Saturn and its rings.

In the meantime, NASA’s scientists will await the final high-resolution images from Dione to come in, especially those the spacecraft will take of the moon’s north pole. They hope to find out if Dione has geological activity. “Dione has been an enigma, giving hints of active geologic processes, including a transient atmosphere and evidence of ice volcanoes,” says Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini science team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But we’ve never found the smoking gun. The fifth flyby of Dione [was] our last chance.”

TIME A Year In Space

Watch 3 Astronauts Return Home from the Space Station

The Soyuz spacecraft will get you home, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the ride.

The journey takes over three hours from the time you separate from the International Space Station until the time you thump down in Kazakhstan—and none of it feels like first class travel. First comes the separation from the station and a four-min., 21-sec. engine burn that will steadily lower your altitude and send you slamming into the atmosphere 76 mi. (121 km) above ground.

Then, your spacecraft will be surrounded by a fireball as you plunge toward the ground, a storm that will abate only when you reach heavier, thicker air and your parachutes open, decelerating you suddenly and violently. But there’s no ocean splashdown here. You’ll hit the Kazakh soil hard, and while braking rockets will fire to cushion the impact, you won’t much notice their effect. Station astronaut Scott Kelly compares the experience to “going over Niagara Falls in a barrel—that’s on fire.”

That adventure is what space station crew-members Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti experienced on June 11. Watch above as the trio’s 199 days in space came to an end with a wild ride home.

Read next: How Vaccines in Space Can Help on Earth

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME innovations

Watch What It’s Like to Get Blasted to 100MPH in 1.2 Seconds

We'd almost definitely vomit

If you ever wondered what it’s like to get blasted off a launch pad going at 100 miles per hour, this SpaceX video does the trick.

The video, posted Friday, shows point-of-view footage of SpaceX’s May 6 pad abort test of its Crew Dragon vehicle. Essentially, the private space company, headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, was testing a system that could safely eject astronauts aboard a just-launched rocket should anything go wrong.

The Dragon vehicle reached 100mph in 1.2 seconds, before topping out at a peak velocity of 345mph.

“The successful Pad Abort Test was the first flight test of SpaceX’s revolutionary launch abort system, and the data captured here will be critical in preparing Crew Dragon for its first human missions in 2017,” SpaceX wrote following the successful test.

In March, SpaceX launched the world’s first completely electric satellites into space.

TIME space

SpaceX Invites You to Mars With These Throwback Travel Posters

The space transportation company makes light of its ambitions to take humans to Mars

TIME A Year In Space

See Scott Kelly’s First 30 Days in Space

A visual diary of the astronaut's first month of his year-long journey in space. Scott Kelly will be the first American astronaut to spend 12 months aboard the International Space Station

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

TIME A Year In Space

Watch the SpaceX Rocket Landing in Slow Motion

The rocket tipped over due to excess lateral velocity

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, marking the sixth resupply mission for SpaceX to the International Space Station and a second chance at attempting to recover a Falcon 9 rocket. The company released this HD slow motion video on Wednesday that shows the rocket approach SpaceX’s autonomous drone barge landing platform, then tipping over after impact. SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk tweeted:

TIME A Year In Space

Astronaut Scott Kelly Takes Off for International Space Station

A fiery display marks the start of a remarkable mission

It took Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Gannady Padalka less than nine minutes to drive to work on Saturday. That’s the easy part. The hard part is that Padalka won’t punch out for six months; for Kornienko and Kelly, it will be a year.

MORE: Watch the Trailer for TIME’s Unprecedented New Series: A Year In Space

Their office, of course, is the International Space Station (ISS). And their drive began at 3:42 p.m. ET Friday, or 1:42 a.m. Saturday in Kazakhstan, where their Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, en route to space. The 510-second sprint to low-Earth orbit will be followed by a six-hour chase, in which the Soyuz will slowly gain ground on the station, finally docking at about the same time people in Kazakhstan will be arriving at their decidedly more prosaic places of business.

TIME will be covering Kelly’s mission in the new series, A Year In Space. Watch the trailer here.

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