HUMAN MISSION TO MARS
Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Gangale
OPS-Alaska and San Francisco State University
The Human Mission to Mars insignia derives from Carter Emmart's logo for the 1981 Case for Mars conference in Boulder, Colorado. The conference was put together by graduate students at a time when government funding for Mars research was at its ebb. Mars was literally and figuratively a four-letter word in official circles, and it was in this environment of neglect (and even some hostility) that Chris McKay, Carol Stoker, Penny Boston, Tom Meyer, and others formed the Mars Underground. Emmart's logo became associated with the triennial Case for Mars conferences (1981-1996) and the Mars Underground. It features Leonardo Da Vinci's study of the proportionality of the human body, surrounded by the classic symbol of the planet Mars.
In the late 1980s Carol Stoker remarked to me that some people were concerned about the gender bias of the logo: a male figure and a male symbol. It also occurred to me that the figure was a light-skinned European, so as a political message the logo had problems: white men can jump... to Mars, and no one else.
My Human Mission to Mars insignia, designed in 1996, embellishes Emmart's original monochrome logo. The plain background is replaced by Earth and Mars--where we come from and where we are going. Accompanying the light-skinned male is a dark-skinned female, symbolizing a diverse humanity voyaging to Mars. The male and female figures, as well as the Earth and Mars background, are separated into complementary halves by the yin-yang, symbolizing the duality of existence and the balance of opposites. The yin-yang, being an eastern symbol, also balances the symbol of Mars that originated in western culture.