With Artemis missions, we are exploring the Moon for scientific discovery, technology advancement, and to learn how to live and work on another world as we prepare for human missions to Mars. We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
Artemis I was an uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft around the Moon.
Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test of the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft around the Moon.
Artemis III will send the first humans to explore the region near the lunar South Pole.
Why We Are Going To The Moon
We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation of explorers: the Artemis Generation. While maintaining American leadership in exploration, we will build a global alliance and explore deep space for the benefit of all.
Earth’s Moon is a 4.5-billion-year-old time capsule, pristinely preserved by the cold vacuum of space. The lunar samples returned during the Apollo Program dramatically changed our view of the solar system, and scientists continue to unlock new secrets from those samples. Yet, we are just scratching the surface of knowledge about the Moon. Future samples from Artemis missions will continue to advance our knowledge of the history and formation of our solar system including Earth and the Moon.
Malapert massif (informal name) is thought to be a remnant of the South Pole – Aitken basin rim, which formed more than 4 billion years ago. More recently, this magnificent peak (lower left) was selected as an Artemis III candidate landing region.
NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
How much water is on the Moon, and why is that important for future exploration?
Water is a critical resource for long-term exploration.
Permanently shadowed regions of the Moon, including craters at the South Pole, are rich in frozen water. Finding it on the Moon, extracting it and converting it means water for drinking, oxygen for breathing, and rocket fuel to power missions farther into the solar system. Finding and using resources in space makes exploration more affordable when we do not have to send everything from Earth. This is also important to help NASA get ready for our next giant leap – human exploration of Mars.
NASA wants to understand how much water exists below the surface and if it can be extracted. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) will be the world’s first lunar water-hunting rover and is planned to launch aboard a CLPS provider lander in late 2024.
Elevation (left) and shaded relief (right) image of Shackleton, a 21-km-diameter (12.5-mile-diameter) permanently shadowed crater adjacent to the lunar south pole. The structure of the crater’s interior was revealed by a digital elevation model constructed from over 5 million elevation measurements from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter.
The Artemis Accords are grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, outlining the vision and principles for a safe, transparent environment that facilitates exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of humanity to enjoy. To date, 29 countries have joined the accords and are committed to establishing a peaceful, prosperous future in space. More countries will sign the Artemis Accords in the months and years ahead to ensure the entire world can benefit from our journey of exploration and discovery.
This graphic displays the flags of the nations that have signed the Artemis Accords against a background image of the Moon in the blackness of space. The graphic is titled “Artemis Accords.” The words, “United for Peaceful Exploration of Deep Space” appear on the bottom of the image.
All that we build, all that we study, all that we do, prepares us to go.