NASA's new Woman on the Moon artwork features a portrait of the Greek goddess Artemis illustrated in the highlights and shadows of the crescent Moon topography. (NASA)
NASA has put a woman on the moon to represent its effort to land the first American woman on the moon.
The space agency on Wednesday (Oct. 23) revealed new artwork symbolizing its Artemis program to send the first humans to the moon since the Apollo astronauts 50 years ago. In Greek mythology, the goddess of the moon, Artemis, was the twin sister of Apollo.
"The Artemis logo looks, quite frankly, like a modern version of the traditional Apollo logo," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, speaking to an audience of young professionals and college students as part of a panel discussion at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC on Wednesday. "The new Artemis logo came from that inspiration and if you look at the [Apollo] logo, you can tell we are going from the Earth, in fact, to the moon."
Referencing the Apollo program logo, Bridenstine drew attention to its depiction of the moon, an illustration that includes the profile of a man's face.
"Oh, look, who's on the moon? It's Apollo." said Bridenstine. "Apollo is not the goddess of the moon, Apollo is something else. So we have decided we need to create a new image, an image of the moon with the goddess of the moon and her name is Artemis."
The new artwork features a portrait of Artemis such that her profile is formed from the highlights and shadows of the crescent moon's topography.
"You can see Artemis here, maybe it looks like she is in a space helmet," said Bridenstine. "It looks like her hair is coming around the corner here — that actually could be a rocket trajectory, and, of course, that rocket trajectory could be heading off to the moon itself."
"There are a lot of different ways to interpret this," he continued. "I just think it is magnificent."
Artemis' face is purposely abstract so that "all women can see themselves in her," NASA describes on its website.
NASA's Artemis program has the goal of landing the first astronauts at the moon's south pole by 2024. Though the initial missions will be short in duration, the space agency intends to establish a long-term, sustainable presence on the lunar surface to prepare for sending future astronauts to Mars.
The Artemis crew will also include the first woman to walk on the moon.
"Unlike the 1960s when all of our astronauts came from fighter pilot and test pilot backgrounds and there were no opportunities for women, this time when we go to the moon, we're going with all of America — a very diverse, highly-qualified astronaut corps that includes women. And not just all of America, we're going with international partners, we're going with the world. We are leading the world in a coalition of nations to go to the moon sustainably, and ultimately go to Mars," said Bridenstine.
The new art does not replace the Apollo-inspired Artemis program logo that NASA revealed in July, but it is meant to be used with it and to emphasize that Artemis, as the literal and figurative "torch bringer," will light NASA's way to the red planet.
"I just think that this image, created by so many great people at NASA, represents a new generation... the Artemis Generation," said Bridenstine.
NASA's Artemis art was inspired by a detail in the Apollo program logo (inset) depicting the Greek god Apollo on the moon. (NASA)
ASA's Artemis logo draws from the Apollo program logo. (NASA)
According to NASA, its new depiction of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, is abstract enough "that any woman can see themselves in her." (NASA)