NASA has had an absolute banner 2015 and 2016 based on their work, the work of others, and quite possibly the success of “The Martian” starring Matt Damon has renewed an interest in the space program and NASA that hasn’t existed since the space shuttle’s inaugural flight and later tragedies and let’s face it that excitement came nowhere near the level of interest brought by the (early) Apollo missions.
New Horizons, “Planet 9” and even Hubble’s continued good work fuel interest
With the disqualification of Pluto as a planet years ago, offering a stunning collector (or I guess usable stamps) in a sheet of eight planets just works better. I suppose 3 X 3 would work but 2 X 4 just makes a nice collector’s sheet if for no other reason than it’s a sheet rather than a square. That’s not to say that Pluto is being overlooked but we’ll get back to that.
With a fairly limited budget, NASA has revived an interest in space simply with the overlap of instrumentation in space working in conjunction with more powerful earth-based telescopes, it seems rarely a day goes by when something new isn’t coming out of space. This barrage of new news, theories, and discoveries have visibly raised the interest in space and science to a level I’ve before seen in my lifetime since the release of “Star Wars.” From putting a lander on a comet, to new discoveries about the potential for life on Mars owing to water, fantastic pictures from the New Horizons spacecraft of Pluto and its moons and its continuing mission on to the Kuiper Belt, it’s been a great year.
Throw in the physical observations of “gravitational waves” validating Einstein’s theory almost exactly 100 years after he posited it and you have even more buzz.
It doesn’t hurt that NASA has become more savvy to this understanding as well. The hiring of artists to create a series of “space tourism” posters earlier this year was a masterclass in public relations and almost direct marketing to taxpayers that pay the agency’s budget in the hope that they will make it clear to their congressperson that they have no interest in seeing NASA’s budget cut when it is accomplishing so much.
Even Hubble has continued up its mission with aplomb with stunning photos of the solar system. Kepler and its discovery of nearly 1,300 exoplanets since its launch in 2009 has even revived an interest in life on other planets.
Back to the stamps
“Views of Our Planets” Forever were revealed on Tuesday May 31 and the “Pluto Explored” stamps were shown the same day at the World Stamp Show 2016 in New York City. The “Pluto Explored” stamps include both images of Pluto and the New Horizons spacecraft. The spacecraft was launched in 2006 to explore Pluto well before its planetary distinction was taken from it notably by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
It was a perfect time to show the world the new stamps as the once a decade show sees over 250,000 attend each year and is the largest stamp show in the world.
“The unveiling of these breathtaking new images of Pluto and our planets will be an exciting day for NASA and for all who love space exploration,” Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a NASA news release.
“With the 2015 Pluto flyby, we’ve completed the initial reconnaissance of the solar system, and we’re grateful to the U.S. Postal Service for commemorating this historic event,” he added.
The “Views of Our Planets” stamps show the planets in awesome colors as they would appear if you were in space as well as how they appear to imaging.