NASA Launches Lego to Jupiter

NASA Launches Lego to Jupiter

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NASA is including some very special cargo with today's Juno mission to Jupiter - three Lego minifigs.

At 11:34 am EDT on August 5, NASA will launch (or did launch, depending on when you read this) the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter. The probe will take five years to make the journey, arriving in July 2016, and is scheduled to make 33 orbits of the planet over a roughly one-year period. Once the mission is over, it will be intentionally "de-orbited" into the Jovian giant.

It's an ambitious and scientifically significant mission, but what makes it truly remarkable is not what it will send back from Jupiter, but what it will take there: three specially-designed Lego minifigs of the Roman god Jupiter, his sister Juno and the pioneering astronomer Galileo.

It may have the ring of a slick marketing campaign but it's actually NASA who went to Lego to commission the pieces specifically for the mission. There are apparently some big Lego fans at the space agency and they wanted to do something special to commemorate Juno; Lego liked the idea so much that it agreed to foot the entire cost of the designing and making the minifigs.

And these aren't your every-day, out-of-the-box minifigs, either. The units are the same size as standard plastic minifigs but are milled out of aluminum and designed specifically to ensure that they won't interfere with any equipment aboard the ship - and to survive the long journey, of course. Each minifig cost $5000 to make.

The minifig crew is part of the Lego Bricks in Space program, an "outreach and educational" partnership with NASA designed to encourage interest among children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Lego has a website dedicated to the collaboration at Legospace.com, which is actually pretty cool, with pictures, wallpapers, videos, a game and even a few educational links. If you prefer a little less of a "colorful plastic brick" approach to your science, you can get a more straight-up skinny on the Juno mission at nasa.gov.

Source: Wired

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Well, to me, that just seems like a waste of money.
Next time they've got too much money they can give it to me instead.

Well hello there aliens!

Greetings from Earth. And for this visit only, we offer you these free samples of the fine products that can be purchased on any earthly Toys-R-Us. So make sure you drop by any of our conveniently placed stores on your next visit to Earth.

EDIT: Did someone forget to mention it to Lego guys that this probe will NOT be coming back. So they're not gonna be getting collectors edition lego toys that have been to Jupitor and will eventually be auctioned off for massive piles of money.

Rex Dark:
Well, to me, that just seems like a waste of money.
Next time they've got too much money they can give it to me instead.

Lego is covering the cost. It's just a publicity stunt, and a fairly harmless one at that.

If it still costs Lego $5000 each to machine those things, they should no longer be in business. That's BS number. Machining aluminum is relatively easy.

Patrick_and_the_ricks:

Rex Dark:
Well, to me, that just seems like a waste of money.
Next time they've got too much money they can give it to me instead.

Lego is covering the cost. It just a publicity stunt, and a fairly harmless one at that.

Ah, I must have misread it the first time.

Sougo:
EDIT: Did someone forget to mention it to Lego guys that this probe will NOT be coming back. So they're not gonna be getting collectors edition lego toys that have been to Jupitor and will eventually be auctioned off for massive piles of money.

Looks like we have to catch it and get them out before any one knows. And it has a head start.

*sigh*

Space piracy just isn't as easy as it used to be.

I look at Juno in the middle there and I see a frying pan she is ready to use on Ol' Jupiter. Roman gods just can't do their own thing anymore without a goddess in the household smackin' them down.

Sougo:
Did someone forget to mention it to Lego guys that this probe will NOT be coming back. So they're not gonna be getting collectors edition lego toys that have been to Jupitor and will eventually be auctioned off for massive piles of money.

Shhh, don't tell them that, let them hope! Speculation on the Ebay bids alone will make me rich! "Gigglechortlesnrk"

At least we can launch our LEGO minifigs about the solar system, so long after we're gone and aliens discover these bizarre creations, they'll think they came from a strange, blocky race of bulbous-headed ancients.

I would say that it was a waste of money but seeing how Lego is paying for it, I'm cool with it.

Avaholic03:
If it still costs Lego $5000 each to machine those things, they should no longer be in business. That's BS number. Machining aluminum is relatively easy.

I am sure that includes designing them and making sure they don't mess with electronics. Likely Lego said it costs 15k to do all three and then the media decided to arbitrarily do some math.

Oh nevermind. Missed a bit

Aliens will like LEGO too.

Although they may be a bit simple .... i'd have started them off with Sticklebricks.

I want aluminum minifigs! That's awesome!
Poor Galileo, though, he'll be stuck as the third wheel for the journey.

Nooo..once they get three figures, they won't be able to stop, they'll come and take the rest by force!

ok if the probe was going to "de-orbit" on say Io or one of the other moons which has actual land (despite the ridiculous levels volcanic activity) that would make more sense, on Jupiter the little guys are just going to be swallowed by seas of metallic Hydrogen....

but whatever it's still a cute notion, good luck aluminum lego people

What? They're not even going to make the probe come back to earth so they can see what orbital proximity to Jupiter does to little aluminum Lego people? Then what's the point? Laughs?

Avaholic03:
If it still costs Lego $5000 each to machine those things, they should no longer be in business. That's BS number. Machining aluminum is relatively easy.

No, the journey just got $15k more expensive because some PR wizard decided it was a good idea to put some useless metal lumps into an object that has all edges filed down with a microscope to save weight. The last I've heard was that it costs $500 to get a single gram of matter to escape velocity so 15k for 3 minifigs seems about right.

 

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