Earlier today, China launched an historic space mission carrying that country's first female astronaut and a couple of male astronauts into space. The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft is on a 13-day trip. The mission is considered an important step toward China's goal of building a space station. We're joined now in our studios by Dean Cheng. He's a research fellow at the Asia Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Cheng, thanks for being with us.
Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, trains in Beijing in April, 2012.
Credit Uncredited / AP
She's not an astronaut or cosmonaut - Liu Yang is a taikonaut, and tomorrow she's scheduled to become China's first woman to venture into space. She's one of a three member team scheduled to lift off aboard the Shenzhou-9, accompanied by Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang.
Scientists said it was an "unexpected" discovery: There's a liquid methane filled lake near the equator of Saturn's moon Titan.
Scientists had seen lakes on Titan before, but they didn't expect them near the equator because they believed the intensity of the sun at those latitudes would evaporate the liquid.
"This discovery was completely unexpected because lakes are not stable at tropical latitudes," planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith of the University of Arizona, who led the discovery team, told the AP.
This artist's illustration shows what NuSTAR should look like in orbit after its 30-foot-long mast deployed.
Credit JPL-Caltech / NASA
A NASA mission aimed at surveying black holes and supernovae, among other things, launched successfully today at noon ET from beneath the belly of a wide-body jet flying approximately 40,000 feet above a darkened Pacific Ocean.
The 772-pound NuSTAR X-ray observatory was carried into an equatorial orbit about 400 miles above the Earth by a Pegasus rocket, which fired its three-stage motor for 13 minutes after being dropped by the L-1011 jet.
NASA may have retired its shuttles, but it has its sights on sending astronauts deeper into space than ever before.
These voyages are years away, but on Monday, astronauts are heading underwater to take part in a simulation that will help them figure out how they might explore one possible new destination: a near-Earth asteroid.