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Lego figures to Jupiter on Juno spacecraft. Why send toys into space?

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NASA via Lego/AP

(Read caption) In this undated image, three LEGO figurines, from left to right, representing the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno and 'the father of science' Galileo Galilei, are shown aboard the Juno spacecraft. NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft will carry the LEGO figures to Jupiter when the spacecraft launches on Friday, Aug. 5, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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On Friday, NASA is scheduled to launch the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter for a five-year mission. Juno will be the first solar-powered craft to ever travel such a distance from the sun.

Aboard Juno will be astronauts of a different kind.

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Through a partnership with the LEGO corporation, NASA is sending three specially-crafted LEGO figurines of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno, and the "father of science" Galileo Galilei to Jupiter. The LEGO mission is part of the "LEGO Bricks in Space project" developed to inspire children to be interested in science, math, engineering, and technology.

The LEGO Juno holds a magnifying glass, Jupiter holds a lightning bolt, and Galileo uses a telescope to help with their journey.

The figurines are made out of special space-grade aluminum. They "have gone through all the testing to make sure that they fit on our spacecraft in a way that is like our other science instruments," Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the Juno mission and space science and engineering director at the Southwestern Research Institute in San Antonio, said at a press conference Aug. 3, Space.com reports.

What are your thoughts about sending 'LEGO bricks' in space?