Artifacts is a special resource in the game which does not produce any product but instead produces different types of Artifact Items which can be deployed onto military units, locations or even entire star systems to cause various bonuses or events.
To create an artifact item you must deploy a Research Facility (by using an ACP Structure Item) at a location with an Artifact resource. On the research facilities production tab there will be a small list of artifact types you can create. There are 3 different levels of power: A1, A5, AX and there are 5 different types: Geotechnical, Cybertronics, Metaphysics, Dimensional, Mysterious. Each type takes a different amount of artifact resource mined before producing an item. There is a progress bar that shows how much more needs to be mined before completion. The higher level artifacts take considerably more resource to produce an item but can provide large military bonuses and effect an entire planet or even star system when deployed.
Once created the artifact item can be loaded onto a ship or ground unit and deployed in different ways with different effects to choose from depending on it's type and level of power. Units do not have to load an item to deploy it, if no item is available in cargo it will attempt to deploy any found on the ground.
Some artifact effects are deployed onto the unit itself giving it permanent attribute bonuses. A unit can only have 3 such effects installed on them at once and they cannot be removed once installed.
Artifact effects are displayed on a units info page as colored icons.