One giant Leap for LEGO Minifigures.

The Mission…

In 2011 the Juno spacecraft was launched on its five-year mission to Space. This mission aimed to help us better understand the origin and evolution of the planet Jupiter. This isn’t just your average mission to space though, there are three special astronauts on board this spacecraft, in the form of LEGO Minifigures! That’s right, as part of an educational outreach programme developed between LEGO and NASA three LEGO Minifigures were sent into space! This outreach programme was designed to try and get children interested in science, technology, and mathematics. The idea was that the minifigures would help gain more attention for Juno’s mission. But, can you guess which minifgures were chosen for this journey?

The Juno Spacecraft in front of Jupiter.

Meet the Mini-figures…

For our first mini-figure, we have the god Jupiter from Roman and Greek mythology (also known as Zeus). Jupiter was known as the god of sky and thunder thus his mini-figure is holding a bolt of lighting. He was known for being mischievous as he drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide what he was getting up to. Our second and only female minifigure is the goddess Juno, Jupiter’s wife. Juno wasn’t blind to Jupiter’s concealed activities as she was able to peer through the clouds from Mount Olympus and see what her husband was doing! Her mini-figure shows this as she has a magnifying glass signifying her search for the truth. The third and final mini-figure is the great Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. Known as the “father of observational astronomy” Galileo made many important discoveries about Jupiter, this included the largest satellites of Jupiter now called the Galilean moons in honor of him! His mini-figure has a telescope, of course!

Left: Jupiter (Zeus) Middle: His wife Juno Right: Galileo Galilei

 

They are not your average LEGO mini-figures, they have been specially made to withstand the extreme conditions of space flight. Standing at 1.5 inches, they have been molded from aluminum. Due to this, they are not painted and instead all of the details have been carved into the aluminum. Also, unlike the standard Lego figures, they are made up single pieces molded together, with no movable pieces.

Mission Goals…

The aim for this mission is to gather knowledge from Jupiter’s surface to help us understand the planetary systems being discovered around other stars. Under Jupiter’s dense cloud cover are the secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions of our solar system during its creation. On board, the spacecraft is the JunoCam which has been sending images of Jupiter back to earth. Here are some of our favorites…

 

This image shows a southern storm across Jupiter’s South Pole, the oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,00 kilometers) in diameter.

This image shows where multiple atmospheric conditions appear to collide, this is called STB Spectr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jovian White Oval – A swirling white cloud in Jupiter’s South South Temperate Belt, known as White Oval A5, the feature is an anticyclonic Storm.

 

All images taken by the Junocam can be found here: https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/

The Mission has now been extended, rather than de-orbiting like it was supposed to in February 2018, it is now scheduled to carry out this research until 2021. There is lots of information available on the NASA website if you would like to keep up to date with this story and you can find out what NASA has discovered so far!

 

Author: Juliette Coplin

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