By 2024, NASA will land astronauts, including the first woman and next man, on the Moon as part of the Artemis lunar exploration program. This won’t be the first time NASA takes the name Artemis to the Moon though. Two robotic spacecraft orbiting the Moon today were initially known as ARTEMIS — short for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. Since 2011, these spacecraft have been sending scientists valuable information about the lunar environment, and laying groundwork critical to returning humans to the Moon.
The mission, now renamed THEMIS-ARTEMIS, uses spacecraft that were originally apart of the mission known as Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, or THEMIS, for short, which launched five spacecraft in 2007 to discover the physical processes that occurred during the events that cause the auroras.
“THEMIS-ARTEMIS has been a pathfinder for technologies that will be important for NASA’s new Artemis program,” said Jasper Halekas, THEMIS-ARTEMIS scientist and researcher at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. “Some of the work we’ve done in terms of navigation and operations will be used by future missions.”