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U.S. Postal Service issues Pluto, New Horizons stamp

Pluto Explored! In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 ‘Pluto: Not Yet Explored’ stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft. In 2015 the spacecraft carried the stamp on its history-making mission to Pluto and beyond. With this stamp, the Postal Service recognizes the first reconnaissance of Pluto in 2015 by NASA’s New Horizon mission. USPS/Antonio Alcalá © 2016 USPS

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is honouring NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto with a 2016 commemorative stamp.

In 1991, the USPS issued a set of 29-cent NASA planetary exploration stamps. Every planet (Pluto was still considered a planet at that time) had been explored by spacecraft in flybys — except Pluto. In place of the spacecraft that had explored it, were the words, “Pluto Not Yet Explored.”

Pluto Explored. (left to right): New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado; New Horizons’ Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Young, SwRI; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Director Ralph Semmel; Annette Tombaugh, daughter of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930; and New Horizons Co-Investigator Will Grundy, Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona hold a print of the 1991 Pluto stamp –with their suggested update – on July 14 at APL in Laurel, Maryland. NASA/Bill Ingalls

But NASA’s successful flyby of Pluto by New Horizons in 2015 changed that and the USPS is paying homage to the exploration of the far off world.

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“The New Horizons project is proud to have such an important honour from the U.S. Postal Service,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Since the early 1990s the old, ‘Pluto Not Explored’ stamp served as a rallying cry for many who wanted to mount this historic mission of space exploration. Now that NASA’s New Horizons has accomplished that goal, it’s a wonderful feeling to see these new stamps join others commemorating first explorations of the planets.”

READ MORE: New photos released by NASA of Pluto sharpest ever

The sheet of four stamps has two stamps that appear twice: an image of Pluto that was taken by New Horizons and an artist’s rendition of the spacecraft.

As well as honouring Pluto, the USPS has issued stamps with stunning images of our planets, another with an image of the moon, as well as one honouring the 50th anniversary of the television premiere of Star Trek.

USPS/Antonio Alcalá © 2016 USPS

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