3 special Lego figurines are currently orbiting Jupiter

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Juno spacecraft enters orbit around Jupiter
Feed-twFeed-fb

NASA's Juno spacecraft is orbiting the giant planet Jupiter, having survived a harrowing journey through radiation and dust to enter into orbit on Monday night. The spacecraft is technically uncrewed, but there are three passengers of sorts.

A trio of Lego figurines are aboard the spacecraft, each representing important discoveries about the largest planet in our solar system. The Lego pieces are crafted in the likeness of Galileo Galilei, who discovered four of Jupiter's moons — Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede — in 1610, the Roman god Jupiter and Jupiter's wife Juno.

"These [minifigures] are made by the LEGO company in a special agreement with NASA," said Scott Bolton, the mission's principal investigator, in a statement. They don't look like typical Legos, though, for good reason.

Lego figurines aboard Juno. They are made of aluminum.

Image: NASA

"They're made out of spacecraft-grade aluminum," Bolton said.

The Lego pieces have set records for the fastest-traveling Legos on record, since the spacecraft hurtled away from Earth for five years before reaching Jupiter on July 4.

The Lego pieces are part of a joint agreement between the Lego company and NASA that is aimed at engaging the public in science education. The space agency is encouraging the public to use Lego pieces to construct models of the future of space exploration, and submit these to NASA as part of a competition.

"We put these LEGO minifigures on board Juno in order to inspire and motivate and engage children, to have them share in the excitement of space exploration and reaching for the best goals that you can," Bolton said.

The Juno figure holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth, while her husband holds a lightning bolt. Galileo holds both a model of the planet and his telescope.

These Lego pieces are not the first to explore space, however. In 2011, for example, astronauts aboard the International Space Station played with sets of their own.

RELATED: See the Lego Vatican display

11 PHOTOS
NTP: Lego Vatican on display in Philly
See Gallery
NTP: Lego Vatican on display in Philly
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown a Lego pope figure on a balcony overlooking the crowd in the piazza in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown is a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown are figurines in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown a Lego pope figure on a balcony overlooking the crowd in the piazza in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown are figurines in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown are figurines including one designed to look like The Rev. Bob Simon in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, The Rev. Bob Simon poses for a photograph with his Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, The Rev. Bob Simon speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, shown are figurines in a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, visitors view a Lego representation of the St. Peterâs basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners