Pluto is being prominently featured in the 2016 US Post Office stamps, which will be displayed to the viewing public at the world Stamp Show, scheduled to take place at the end of May.
Representatives of the United States Postal Service gave a sneak peek into their newly designed stamp assortment on Wednesday, December 30.
Two of the stamps, shown twice as part of a souvenir sheet, refer to the historic Pluto flyby, which took place on July 14, 2015.
Back then, NASA’s spacecraft, known as the New Horizons, achieved the closest exploration of the dwarf planet ever reported through history, floating at a distance of just around 7,800 miles away from Pluto.
This allowed the probe to capture close-up images of the planet’s incredible topography, which had been shrouded in mystery ever since the space object was initially spotted, back in 1930.
It’s not actually the first time that Pluto has appeared in stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. In 1991, a stamp titled “Pluto: not yet explored” cost just a mere 29 cents.
However, its actual significance was much greater for NASA researchers, who felt extremely vexed that their failure to organize a mission to that distant world had been so conspicuously pointed out.
On the other hand, the galling illustration at least acted as an incentive, motivating scientists to continue their work, in order to reach the ultimate goal of sending a mission to the dwarf planet.
Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator, even made sure to include a copy of the offending stamp aboard the interplanetary space probe, when it took off back in 2006 from Cape Canaveral, so that the words “not yet explored” could lose all meaning, as soon as the spacecraft approached Pluto.
Following the resounding success of that endeavor, it appears that even the U.S. Post Services are trying to celebrate the much-anticipated flyby.
One of the newly created stamps shows the New Horizons probe, while the other one presents Pluto, in one of its most precise and detailed images ever taken, which also includes its heavily publicized heart shape, scientifically known as Tombaugh Regio.
The set has been titled “Pluto: explored”, thus referencing the former illustration, and emphasizing the progress that has been achieved since then.
There are also other space-themed stamps included in this new collection of stamps, developed under the guidance of art director Antonio Alcalá : one such set contains photos of the eight Solar System Planets, while another picture consists in a dazzling rendition of the full moon.
In addition, 4 other stamps have been created in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek original series, which aired its first episode on September 8, 1966.
There are also illustrations honoring civil rights leader Richard Allen, legendary jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and beloved actress Shirley Temple, while other images feature flowers, trucks and soda fountain favorites (ice cream cones, banana splits and sundaes).
Last but not least, even specially designed holiday stamps have been included in the preview, referring to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Halloween (the instantly recognizable Jack-O’-Lanterns).
Image Source: MNN