These three Lego minifigs are standing ready to launch inside Juno, NASA's next interplanetary spacecraft. From left to right, they are Galileo Galilei, the goddess Juno and her husband, Jupiter. They will reach the mighty gas giant in five years.
If everything goes according to plan, they will be launched inside their spacecraft on top of an Atlas V rocket now at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on August 5, 11:34 a.m. EDT. They will reach orbit in 11 minutes and, "about 30 minutes later, the Atlas rocket's second stage will perform a second, nine-minute burn, after which Juno will be on its five-year journey to the largest planet in the solar system."
With them, they are bringing a plaque dedicated to Galileo and a bunch of instruments to study the planet like never before "from an elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles) from the cloud tops at closest approach."
Godspeed Lego minifigs. I hope you are wearing lead underpants. [NASA]
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