What does the Artemis symbol mean?

Artemis, named after the twin sister of Apollo, is known in Greek mythology as the Goddess of the Moon and the hunt. NASA has said that the name encompasses all its efforts to return humans to the Moon and eventually onto Mars. 

"Through the Artemis program, we will see the first woman and the next man walk on the surface of the Moon," the space agency said when it unveiled the Artemis logo in 2019. "As the ‘torch bringer,’ literally and figuratively, Artemis will light our way to Mars."

The Artemis branding draws inspiration from the Apollo program logo and mission patch, NASA said.  "Using an ‘A’ as the primary visual and a trajectory from Earth to the Moon, we honor all that the Apollo program achieved."

Project Apollo was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by NASA, which succeeded in preparing and landing the first humans on the Moon from 1968 to 1972. [NASA]

With Earth Blue, Rocket Red and Lunar Silver for colors, every part of the identity has meaning:

  • THE A: The A symbolizes an arrowhead from Artemis’ quiver and represents launch.
  • TIP OF THE A: The tip of the A of Artemis points beyond the Moon and signifies that our efforts at the Moon are not the conclusion, but rather the preparation for all that lies beyond.
  • EARTH CRESCENT: The crescent of the Earth at the bottom shows missions from humanity's perspective. From Earth we go. Back to Earth all that we learn and develop will return. This crescent also visualizes Artemis’ bow as the source from which all energy and effort is sent.
  • TRAJECTORY: The trajectory moves from left to right through the crossbar of the "A" opposite that of Apollo. Thus highlighting the distinct differences in our return to the Moon. The trajectory is red to symbolize our path to Mars.
  • MOON: The Moon is our next destination and a stepping stone for Mars. It is the focus of all Artemis efforts.

Artemis I Mission Patch

Artemis I mission patch [NASA]

According to NASA, the artwork for Artemis I features the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft and lifting off from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

Officials said the triangular shape, which is classic for NASA mission emblems, was chosen to represent the three main programs that comprise NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems: Orion, SLS, and Exploration Ground Systems.

What do the colors of the Artemis I symbol signify?

The color silver that surrounds the patch gives a nod to the silver Orion spacecraft. The orange rocket and flames represent the firepower of the SLS. "The red and blue mission trajectories encompassing the white full Moon proudly emphasize the hard work, tradition, and dedication of this American led-mission while also embracing NASA’s international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) as both agencies forge a new future in space," NASA said in a statement online. 

Three lightning towers are seen in the logo which set the scene of Launch Pad 39B, where the historic flight will lift off from on Monday. 

How was the Artemis I symbol designed?

The symbol was designed in collaboration by the creative team working for the Deep Space Exploration Systems programs, which includes Orion, SLS, and Exploration Ground Systems, located at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Johnson Space Center in Houston, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and Kennedy, NASA officials said.

Since the Artemis I mission will not have any humans aboard,  the program teams had the rare opportunity to conceive the mission identifier. 

A crew, however, will be aboard the Artemis II. Officials plan to have a symbol designed by NASA’s Astronaut Office with the help of the crew that will fly aboard.