Three super-secret Lego minifigs are stowing away on NASA's Juno spacecraft, which heads off to Jupiter this Friday.
A couple NASA scientists working on the Juno mission thought that it would be kinda fun to stash some Lego minifigs on the satellite before launch. Lego liked the idea, and spent $15,000 carving these 1.5-inch tall figures out of solid blocks of aluminum to make sure that they don't cause the spacecraft to crash into Jupiter by accident. The secret plan was only just revealed today (two days before launch) presumably because it's now too late for anyone to make a fuss about it.
While the minifigs are the same size as the little Lego dudes you have at home, unless you bought the Roman Gods set along with the 16th Century Astronomers set, you probably won't have these specific models. The beardy guy with the lightning bolt on the left there is Jupiter himself, next to him is his wife (and, uh, sister) Juno holding a magnifying glass, and rounding out the trio is Galileo, who's got a model of Jupiter in one hand and a telescope in the other.
Juno (the spacecraft) is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2016, where it will spend a year orbiting the gas giant. Before radiation completely fries the probe, it'll be sent on one final screaming death dive of death into Jupiter's atmosphere, and in the process, those three minifigs will briefly become the fastest moving and most distant toys in the entire universe as we know it.