Good news, space nerds: now your love of the cosmos can be signed, sealed, and delivered with flair. The U.S. Postal Service recently released a preview of its 2016 series of stamps spotlighting NASA’s Planetary Science Program. The new class includes a set of images featuring Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft, a Global Forever stamp highlighting Earth’s moon, eight brightly colored Forever stamps with the solar system’s planets, and even a nod to space pop culture with a tribute to 50 years of Star Trek.
The Pluto stamps are particularly timely in light of the historic 2015 New Horizons flyby. In 2006, the team at NASA placed a 29-cent stamp from 1991 that read “Pluto: Not Yet Explored” in the Pluto-bound spacecraft. When the craft (and postage) made its way past the dwarf planet last year, members of the mission team made a large print of the stamp, and crossed out the words “not yet.”
The souvenir sheet of four stamps features an artist's rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft as well as a color enhanced image of Pluto, showcasing the now-famous heart-shaped feature on the dwarf planet’s surface. These “Pluto Explored!” stamps will be dedicated in late May of 2016 at the World Stamp Show in New York.
The brilliant colors of the planets in the eight new Forever stamps reflect different things. Some depict the planets’ “true colors,” which is what one might see if traveling through space, while others use colors to represent particular features based on imaging data, and still others use the near-infrared spectrum to visualize things that cannot be seen by the human eye.
The $1.20 Global Forever stamp features an image of the moon as it rises.
The new Star Trek Forever stamps celebrate the 50th anniversary of the television premiere with four digital illustrations inspired by the television program. There’s the Starship Enterprise inside the outline of a Starfleet insignia, the silhouette of a crewman in a transporter, the silhouette of the Enterprise from above, and the Enterprise inside the outline of the Vulcan salute.
All images via NASA.