LEGO Minifigs are Heading To and Into Jupiter
Tomorrow marks the first launch window for the Juno mission, NASA’s latest New Frontiers space probe. After a five year trip through the inner Solar System, including an Earth flyby in 2013, Juno will arrive at Jupiter in 2016. While there the spacecraft will measure properties related to the planet’s atmosphere, magnetic field, and gravitational field. Ideally this information will lead to a more complete picture of how Jupiter formed, which in turn helps astronomers understand the Solar System formation as a whole.
Besides a multitude of instruments, the mission will also carry three very special stowaways, LEGO minifigures of the Roman god Jupiter, his sister/wife Juno, and the famous astronomer Galileo Galilei.
As the story goes, NASA scientists are big fans of LEGO and so they approached the company about doing something special for the mission. In response LEGO came up with these three, one of a kind minfigures. What makes these minifigs special is that while they’re the same size as normal LEGO figurines, these ones are made of aluminum so they won’t interfere with the instruments. The reported cost for each minifig, $5000 which was taken care by the LEGO corporation. Don’t worry American tax payers, NASA didn’t pay for these.
If LEGO stowaways aren’t cool enough, the final maneuver for the Juno mission is to plummet into Jupiter. This means that the final resting place for our three fearless minifigs will be in the belly of the king of gods.
The official NASA story, Juno Spacecraft to Carry Three Figurines to Jupiter Orbit.