When NASA's 2004 astronaut candidate class unveiled its patch, it included elements that symbolize the unique aspects of the class.
The astronaut class of 2004 is the first since the announcement of the Vision of Space Exploration, which calls for NASA to return humans to the moon and then to send humans to Mars. To symbolize the Vision, the patch features the moon and Mars.
There are also 14 stars, representing the class members. The stars are arranged in the constellation of Carina, the keel of the Argonauts' ship. Like the Argonauts, the astronauts will explore the unknown.
In the foreground, an image of the Earth includes the 16 partner nations of the ISS program. The research on the station is providing knowledge that will allow NASA to conduct long-duration spaceflights to the moon and Mars.
Since this is the 19th astronaut candidate class, the patch has an image of an open book with the Roman numeral for 19 on the cover. The open book represents the educator astronauts who are members of the class and the importance that education has in space exploration. This is the first astronaut candidate class to include educator astronauts.
The U.S. and Japanese flags are on the upper border of the patch. There are 11 U.S. members and three Japanese members in the class.
Finally, the other three borders contain the Latin words "Explorandi Concitandi Docendi Gratia," the central theme of NASA's mission: for the sake of exploring, inspiring and teaching.