Space has always been known to us as a vast, limitless frontier that we could scarcely hope to explore in its entirety in any lifetime. It may be centuries before a human being is able to step onto the surface of Jupiter, but on August 5, 2011, three important members of history hitched a ride on the spacecraft Atlas V and journeyed to the 5th planet in our solar system. Due to the unique partnership between NASA and Lego, the passengers in question were indeed the beloved construction toys of many a childhood.
These miniature replicas of Jupiter, the Roman god of sky and thunder, Juno, queen of the gods, and Galileo, Italian astonomer and philosophor, were built with special and specific blueprints to ensure that they would not interfere with the spaceship's ability to collect data in any way. Forged from aluminum and engineered using the exact same dimensions as the Legos we grew up with, these figurines were befitted with accessories that represented their talents and skills for this trip. Jupiter, with his lightening bolt, Juno, with her magnifying glass in her quest for verity, and Galileo, with a telescope and model of the destination planet, are all acting as brokers in the name of scientific exploration.
While it has been over a decade since I last played with Legos myself, the fun and good times of my childhood that they denote are still a very fond memory for me today. The fact that a giant conglomerate like NASA can also understand the joy that this endeavor will hold for many people pleases me to no end. At the end of the day, Lego or astronaut alike, we are all working together to discover what else is out there.