June 1, 2016 – Breathtaking images of Pluto and the planets are getting a stamp of approval from the U.S. Postal Service, which unveiled striking new Forever stamps at the World Stamp Show NY-2016 on Tuesday.
“The issuing of these ‘Views of our Planets’ and ‘Pluto Explored’ stamps has special significance for NASA, since this represents the culmination of a half-century of space exploration,” said NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. “With the July 14, 2015 flyby of Pluto, we’ve completed the checklist of all the classical planets and can now declare—‘mission accomplished.’”
Joining Stofan in delivering remarks were NASA’s Director of Planetary Science Jim Green, New Horizons’ Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, and Norman Kuring, oceanographer at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland—creator of the iconic “Blue Marble” image of Earth.
The crowd of about 500 philatelists cheered as Stofan quipped, “I may have to stop emailing and start writing letters again.”
In dedicating the stamps, U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams noted, “In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent ‘Pluto: Not Yet Explored’ stamp on board the New Horizons spacecraft, which – it is safe to say – makes it the most widely-traveled stamp in the universe.”
The 45-minute ceremony was followed by an autograph session, in which speakers and VIPs signed first day of issue programs for hundreds of stamp enthusiasts—the line snaking through the hallways of the Javits Center in New York City.
The planetary stamps are now being sold at most U.S. post offices. The Pluto—Explored! Forever stamps are available online or by calling 800-782-6724.
“These breathtaking new images of Pluto and our planets make for an exciting day for NASA and for all who love space exploration,” said Green. “We’re grateful to the U.S. Postal Service for commemorating this historic achievement.”
The color image of Pluto that appears on the stamp was assembled by Alex Parker during the New Horizons’ Pluto flyby in July 2015. Parker is a planetary astronomer working at SwRI in Boulder, Colorado.