No one hears you scream but these mythological figurines
August 5, 2011 10:56 AM   Subscribe

NASA's Juno spacecraft launched this morning and is en route to Jupiter (launch video). Equipped with microwave, ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light detectors Juno will investigate the origins, atmosphere, and magnetosphere of the Solar System's largest planets over one year beginning with its arrival in 2016. Using its awesome solar-powered technology Juno will show Jupiter's magnetic field in detail never before seen. We probably won't hear much from Juno again until 2013, when it makes a fly-by of Earth. You can follow Juno on Twitter, so if it types out its scream, someone will hear it. Also screaming traveling aboard Juno are three very special LEGO mini-figurines.
posted by IvoShandor (35 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Since it's apparently probe week here on MeFi, here is a wiki link to the somewhat-forgotten Soviet Venus probe program Venera which resulted in this image of the surface of Venus.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:02 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

Excited! forgot about this and then saw it on my FB page feed. So I clicked on the launch feed. It came up at T-6 seconds. Talk about timing!
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's largest PLANET. good christ
posted by IvoShandor at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2011

Wouldn't it be great if it had a sister probe called 'Paycock'.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:16 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's largest PLANET. good christ

It's so big it's almost plural.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 11:17 AM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

"The LEGO Juno holds a magnifying glass 'to signify her search for the truth,'"

I like to think that's Martina Navratilova holding a tennis racket.
posted by resurrexit at 11:17 AM on August 5, 2011

Love that they're doing this, but seriously? Lego?

Also.... It's been 10 years since 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been a reality, and we're only just now sending our second (here's the first) unmanned probe to investigate Jupiter in more than a flyby.
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also traveling aboard Juno are three very special LEGO mini-figurines.

Sometimes I really worry about what the neighbors might think.
posted by likeso at 11:19 AM on August 5, 2011

I love the idea of someone somewhere finding this thing, wondering what to make of the LEGO figurines.
posted by ambient2 at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011

posted by Capt. Renault at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

What happened Juno, you broke it off with Paulie, need to get away?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Them Jupiternians are going to be mighty confused about our knees once they get here.
posted by Legomancer at 11:23 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I just wanted to say Nice Post.
posted by eriko at 11:41 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Something something Diablo Cody something.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:48 AM on August 5, 2011

"The LEGO Juno holds a magnifying glass 'to signify her search for the truth,'"

Looks like Leia holding a frying pan to me.
posted by lydhre at 11:57 AM on August 5, 2011


Also, since I know Chris from PUSA is around this site somewhere:
Jupiter, Jupiter! Mass of gas and dammit
Jupiter, Jupiter's pure pure pure planet

Freaked out and Small is teh bset album k tks
posted by Eideteker at 11:59 AM on August 5, 2011

NASA? Are they still around?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:04 PM on August 5, 2011

wow, when I was 10, a friend and I sent a letter to Lego ( jan. 77') with our existing ideas on airtanks and service modules, a suggestion for arms and a rudematary rover, even waist level laser packs all with existing pieces circa 1976. We recieved a nice letter back, I lost my copy when we moved from Ann Arbor, though I'm sure my old friend has his. She said the ideas were great but could not sign any sort of legal document as we were minors- something about design versus company ownership. I suspect they had thier own designs but it was two years until a full space line came out and mini-figure in 78'

my only lego meme.
go well little explorers.
posted by clavdivs at 12:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Finally we can answer the schoolyard controversy of whether boys go to Jupiter and get more stupider.
posted by dr_dank at 12:13 PM on August 5, 2011

My fiancee's name is Juno. So I'm geeked about the merch--I might just stockpile a bunch and dole it out at various points in the journey. "We're halfway, honey--here's a T-shirt!" I don't think they're selling the space aluminum minifigs, though, surely a missed opportunity.
posted by paryshnikov at 12:36 PM on August 5, 2011

Solar power has come a long way. The only other solar powered space probe that has gone as far from the sun as Jupiter is Rosetta, which hasn't even got enough power to really function at that distance. It has recently entered a hibernation state where not even its communication systems are switched on - it is actually impossible to communicate with or send commands to it, just to save power. But Rosettas core mission takes place somewhat closer to the sun when it reaches its target comet, and where it will have sufficient power to power its instruments.
posted by Catfry at 12:47 PM on August 5, 2011

"Named after the mythical Greek goddess and wife of Jupiter, Juno..."

posted by Eideteker at 12:59 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The specially-constructed LEGO Minifigures are of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno, and "father of science" Galileo Galilei.

  1. "Father of science?" I mean, the guy was historically important no doubt, but the father of all science? No.
  2. Let's play a game of "WHAT DOES NOT BELONG." Today's game involves the "father of science" and two mystical, completely secular invisible people living in the sky.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:14 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I mean, it's not like they named a planet after him or anything.
posted by muddgirl at 1:29 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also traveling aboard Juno are three very special LEGO mini-figurines.

"Minifigs in spaaaace ...."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:32 PM on August 5, 2011

That "solar power" business worries me. I had read that NASA had run out of plutonium 238, which is what they used to power Galileo, Cassini, and the Voyagers, and there was no new source available.

Problem with solar power is that solar flux at Jupiter is about 8% of what it is on Earth. You really can't generate much power that way.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:16 PM on August 5, 2011

Civil_Disobedient: Let's play a game of "WHAT DOES NOT BELONG."

That's easy, the lady. Wait, wait, no! It's not because she's a woman, it's because she doesn't relate to this voyage. Ah, except there's the analogies of Juno being able to see Jupiter's true self. And most of the objects in our solar system received names long ago based on Greek or Roman mythology. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has therefore adopted this tradition in its rules for naming certain types of objects in the solar system. So it's keeping up with tradition.

In summary: THE GAME IS RIGGED. They all belong! What do I win?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:20 PM on August 5, 2011

Juno has really REALLY big solar arrays:
To operate on the sun's light that far out requires solar panels about the size of the cargo section of a typical tractor-trailer you'd see on the interstate highway. Even with all that surface area pointed sunward, all three panels, which are 2.7 meters wide (9 feet), by 8.9 meters long (29 feet), will only generate about enough juice to power five standard light bulbs -- about 450 watts of electricity.
and is very energy-efficient:
"In general, once we’re out at Jupiter, we need 405 watts, which is not really enough to even run your hair dryer," Gehling said. "Of those 405 watts, about half of them go toward keeping the spacecraft warm. So, the other half, somewhere in the 250 range, is to run all of the instruments and all of the avionics."
Great post, IvoShandor. I was considering posting about Juno, but I work at the same company as the PI (although in a completely different department) so it didn't seem kosher. There was a big launch party this morning but us non-rocket-scientists had to get real work done.
posted by muddgirl at 2:26 PM on August 5, 2011

Hah. They already fixed it, Eideteker. They must have heard the cry of mythology pedants across the internet.
posted by BlueJae at 2:52 PM on August 5, 2011

Open the pod bay door please, Hal.
posted by Trout7000 at 3:13 PM on August 5, 2011

I can finally take "See a rocket launch" off the bucket list because I was at the NASA Juno tweetup. We heard from many of the scientists/engineers involved and other special guests.

On the tour we not only visited Juno mission control & the rocket on the launchpad but also saw the vehicles taking GRAIL and Curiosity to the moon & Mars, respectively. Also got to go into the VAB and visit with the good (space)ship Discovery.

It was Space Nerd Christmas.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:33 PM on August 5, 2011 [3 favorites]

NorthernLite where does one go to make sure he clears his calendar the next time there's one of them there tweetups? Who should I follow on twitter? Maybe not THE next one, but I'ts on my bucket list too, dammit.
posted by DigDoug at 5:03 AM on August 6, 2011

"Open the pod bay door please, Hal."

My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it, I can sing it for you.
posted by Eideteker at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2011

DigDoug - On twitter @NASAtweetup and here
After they open up registration you have 24 hours to apply IIRC. 150 participants and a comparable number for a waitup list are chosen at random.

They just finished selection for the early Sept. GRAIL tweetup and the Mars mission applications will probably open sometime in October. (They usually take apps for a new tweetup just as the previous one is winding up.)

It's pay-your-own-way, of course.

I commend NASA's social media staff for their hard work. And I think it's generating good publicity through newer media as well as cultivating NASA's most avid "fan base."
posted by NorthernLite at 9:11 AM on August 6, 2011

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