This month we are featuring Space Probes – Crashes, Lego and the missing hyphen
The Soviet probe Luna 15 crashed into the surface of the Moon while the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were still on it! Luna 15 was launched three days before the Apollo 11 liftoff, its aim was to land on the lunar surface, collect rock samples, and return to Earth. However it crashed into Mare Crisium, approximately 900 kilometres northeast of the Apollo 11 landing site.
The Mariner 1 probe, which was meant to orbit Venus, failed because of a missing hyphen in a line of code. The hyphen was left out causing a major flaw in the software of the guidance system. The mission was aborted approximately 5 minutes after launch. Arthur C Clarke described it as “the most expensive hyphen in history”. The mission was accomplished by Mariner 2 which launched 5 weeks later.
The Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter carries three LEGO figurines representing Galileo, the Roman god Jupiter and his wife Juno (pictured above). The figurines were produced in partnership between NASA and LEGO as part of an outreach program to inspire children's interest in science. Although most LEGO toys are made of plastic, these minifigures were especially made of aluminum to endure the extreme conditions of space flight. Image of the figures credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC