With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, we at Astrogeology are not only thankful for food on our tables, but for the successful launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission on November 16, 2022. Artemis ushers in a new era of scientific exploration of the Moon. The Apollo missions succeeded in landing humans on the Moon and now the Artemis missions will build on that legacy.
The Artemis missions are a huge undertaking. NASA has stated that “Every state in America has made a contribution to the success of its Artemis program.” Artemis also relies on contributions from international partners in the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The early phase of the Artemis program will involve three Moon missions:
The Artemis I launch on November 16, 2022 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was a huge success. It is an uncrewed mission to test the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft capability to orbit the Moon in preparation for future Artemis missions. Orion arrived in orbit around the Moon on Monday, November 21 and is scheduled to return home Sunday, December 11.
Artemis II is next to orbit the Moon, currently scheduled for May 2024, and this time astronauts will be aboard Orion during the fly-by test. They won’t get to land on the surface just yet, but this will be a critical test of internal systems and astronaut readiness for Artemis III lunar landing.
Artemis III — the finale of these 3 initial missions — will land astronauts on the Moon’s south pole: a cold, dark region which scientists believe hold rich resources useful for sustainability on the Moon. This region could possibly be a stepping-stone to deep space travel, with eyes set first on Mars. Astronauts have been training to explore the south pole and will be on their way within the decade. Among the firsts for this mission, a person of color and a woman will set boots on the Moon.
Artemis Programs allow leaders to inspire their teams:
Dr. Justin Hagerty, lunar scientist and Director of Astrogeology Science Center, took the opportunity of the Artemis I launch to send a message to all of us at Astrogeology:
"For those that were able to witness the successes of the Apollo era, hopefully Artemis reignites those passions that initially brought you to this field! For those who are getting to experience this type of journey for the first time, I hope this moment provides the jolt of excitement that propels you into the next stages of exploration!"
Members of the Astrogeology team are involved in the Artemis missions in many ways. Some members of our Team likeDr. Laszlo Kestay and Jim Skinner are very excited about the Artemis program because it has opened doors in their careers they never dreamed possible. Not everyone can be or want to be an astronaut, but there is other important work to be done that can allow one to contribute to human advancement in space.
Astrogeology was founded to support NASA's exploration of the Moon, and we are thankful to be able to continue that legacy with the Artemis missions! Have fun learning more about Artemis here.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and keep on exploring along with us!