As New Horizons speeds toward its date with Pluto the mission team petitions to celebrate the spacecraft with a USPS Forever Stamp… and YOU can help!
The New Horizons spacecraft is soaring through the outer solar system, currently in blissful hibernation but nonetheless excellent condition for its upcoming date with Pluto. It is now the closest any manmade spacecraft has come to the distant world, and in July of 2015 it will send back the first views ever of Pluto, its moon Charon, and whatever surprises the far-flung family of frozen worlds may hold in store.
So why shouldn’t we honor this intrepid robot explorer with a stamp?
That’s exactly what the New Horizons team is trying to make happen though an online petition to the U.S. Postal Service. The stamp above, a concept illustration by space scientist and artist Dan Durda of the Southwest Research Institute, is what’s envisioned as a successor to a 1990 stamp portraying Pluto as a “Not Yet Explored” featureless orb.
(Personally, I like Dan’s version much better.)
Admittedly, what was known about Pluto in 1990 (back when it was still an honest-to-goodness “planet”) was mostly speculative. There was no New Horizons, no Hubble images of its curiously-mottled surface, no knowledge of its smaller moons Nix, Hydra or the yet-to-be-named P4. Even the presence of an tenuous atmosphere had only been discovered two years prior. Pluto, for the most part, was very much an enigma.
The gold-foiled New Horizons will, in a little over 41 months from now, help solve the puzzle of Pluto (and in the process undoubtedly reveal many more new mysteries!)
A stamp, in my opinion, is the least we can do to pay homage to the historic and groundbreaking New Horizons mission. Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons, has similar sentiments.
“You can help make this happen,” Stern said. “We’re asking people to sign the petition, because the post office considers not just the merits of a new stamp proposal, but also whether it is supported by a significant number of people. This is a chance for us all to celebrate what American space exploration can achieve though hard work, technical excellence, the spirit of scientific inquiry, and the uniquely human drive to explore.”
It can take at least three years for a stamp concept to be created and released by the USPS, so by petitioning now we can help make sure it’s ready in time for the spacecraft’s flyby.
So sign the petition on Change.org here. Pass it on. Tell your friends and family to do the same. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, email, whatever your social media platform of choice may be. With enough support we can make this a reality and give New Horizons — and Pluto — our “stamp” of approval!
Forever Stamps were created by the United States Postal Service in 2007. They are non-denominational First Class postage, which means that they can be used to mail First Class letters no matter what the postal rate. Learn more about Forever Stamps here.