The night of October 2 – 3 will see a brilliant pairing of lights in our night sky. Earth’s Moon and planet Mars will shine close together — only a smidgen over a degree apart — in the southeast. As viewed from the Medina, Ohio area, Moon and Mars will be nearest each other at 12:17 AM EDT. Don’t worry if you can’t stay up, the two will be a beautiful pair to behold all night long.
Our Moon will be a day past Full and in its Waning Gibbous phase, so it will be round and bright. Mars, while too distant to be seen as a disc by the unaided eye, is nearing an unusually close approach to Earth during its opposition and will shine like a coppery star. Mars will be nearest to Earth, at 62 million kilometers (38,525,014 miles) distant, on October 6 and it won’t be that close again until 2035.
Opposition refers to a time in their orbits when Mars (or another planet) is opposite the Earth from the Sun — around that time is when the two bodies, on concentric racetrack orbits around the Sun, pass each other and are at their closest and brightest.
We go now to the Moon, not as a destination, but as a proving ground for all the technology, science, and human exploration efforts that will be critical for missions to Mars. On the lunar surface we will pursue water ice and other natural resources that will further enable deep space travel. From the Moon, humanity will take the next giant leap to Mars.
NASA has led the charge in space exploration for 60 years, and as we mark the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the agency is preparing for its next giant leap with the Artemis program.
Artemis, named after the twin sister of Apollo who is also the Goddess of the Moon and the hunt, encompasses all of our efforts to return humans to the Moon – which will prepare us and propel us on to Mars. Through the Artemis program, we will see the first woman and the next man walk on the surface of the Moon. As the “torch bringer,” literally and figuratively, Artemis will light our way to Mars.
With this in mind, NASA is unveiling the new Artemis program identity, a bold look that embodies the determination of the men and women who will carry our missions forward. They will explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the Solar System.
This new identity draws inspiration from the Apollo program logo and mission patch. Using an “A” as the primary visual and a trajectory from Earth to the Moon, we honor all that the Apollo program achieved. However, through Artemis we will forge our own path, pursue lunar exploration like never before, and pave the way to Mars.
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.
February 12, 2019 — One of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration, NASA’s Opportunity rover mission is at an end after almost 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping lay the groundwork for NASA’s return to the Red Planet.
The Opportunity rover stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June 2018. After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) made their last attempt to revive Opportunity Tuesday, to no avail. The solar-powered rover’s final communication was received June 10.
“It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration.”
Designed to last just 90 Martian days and travel 1,100 yards (1,000 meters), Opportunity vastly surpassed all expectations in its endurance, scientific value and longevity. In addition to exceeding its life expectancy by 60 times, the rover traveled more than 28 miles (45 kilometers) by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars – “Perseverance Valley.”
“For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Whatever loss we feel now must be tempered with the knowledge that the legacy of Opportunity continues – both on the surface of Mars with the Curiosity rover and InSight lander – and in the clean rooms of JPL, where the upcoming Mars 2020 rover is taking shape.”