Today marks the end of NASA spacecraft Juno’s five-year trek to survey the outer dimension. As of 4:53 this morning, the probe successfully entered orbit of Jupiter – the largest planet in our solar system.
Whilst today marks a historical step for science and modern technology, it’s also a giant leap within the realm of the brick. Shortly before its launch, the spacecraft was packed with three LEGO minifigures, who are now comfortably circulating around 365 million miles away from their Earthling origins.
Fashioned from solid aluminium, the minifigures were created through a partnership between NASA and The Lego Group, in order to encourage children’s interest in science, technology and maths. The three figures resemble the Roman God Jupiter and his wife Juno, as well as Galileo Galilei – the Italian astronomer responsible for discovering four of Jupiter’s moons back in 1610.
The LEGO company excitedly revealed the news on their website in 2011, explaining the reason behind the figures’ creation, as well as the props they hold.
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. The Juno spacecraft will also look beneath the clouds to help NASA understand the planet’s structure and history.
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. He used a telescope to confirm the phases of Venus and discovered the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honour). Of course, the minifigure Galileo has his telescope with him on the journey.
The Juno spacecraft launched back in 2011, with aims to determine the water content of Jupiter’s atmosphere, and examine the planet’s structure. The probe’s pint-sized pioneers will circle the planet for 20 months, before ending their adventure in a scheduled crash into the planet’s dense atmosphere.
For more information on the monumental mission, you can visit the spacecraft’s official information page via the NASA website.