This has been all over the news, in both Lego channels and mainstream media but I had to include it here because it's too cool not to pass up. Basically the Juno probe, which just hitched a ride on an Atlas rocket launched yesterday, is carrying along some specially designed 1.5" aluminum Lego figs.
NASA's excellent Juno Mission website is here.
NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft will carry the 1.5-inch likeness of Galileo Galilei, the Roman god Jupiter and his wife Juno to Jupiter when the spacecraft launches this Friday, Aug. 5. The inclusion of the three mini-statues, or figurines, is part of a joint outreach and educational program developed as part of the partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group to inspire children to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In Greek and Roman mythology, Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief. From Mount Olympus, Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature. Juno holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth, while her husband holds a lightning bolt. The third LEGO crew member is Galileo Galilei, who made several important discoveries about Jupiter, including the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honor). Of course, the miniature Galileo has his telescope with him on the journey. -NASA Press Release
Key things to know about the Juno Mission
- Spacecraft launched August 5, 2011
- Five-year cruise to Jupiter, arriving July 2016
- Spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for about one year (33 orbits)
- Mission ends with de-orbit into Jupiter
Specifically, Juno will…
- Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
- Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
- Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
- Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.