NASA’s Breathtaking Planet Images Get Stamps of Approval

Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever Stamps Issued Today

May 31, 2016 @USPS


NEW YORK CITY — Less than a year following NASA’s nine-year, three-billion plus mile New Horizons mission to explore Pluto, the U.S. Postal Service dedicated Forever stamps to commemorate the historic event, while dedicating a second set of stamps depicting NASA’s stunning images of our planets.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever stamps took place before a crowd of 500 at the world’s largest stamp show that only occurs in the United States once a decade, World Stamp Show-NY 2016. The show runs through Saturday. The public is asked to share the news on social media using the hashtags #PlutoExplored and #PlanetStamps. Visit  Our Planets Forever Stamps to view images of the stamps and background on the planets.

“In 1991, the Postal Service issued a Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp that served as a rallying cry for those who very much wanted to explore it,” said U.S. Postal Service Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President David Williams in dedicating the stamps. “At the time, Pluto was still considered a planet, and it was the only one in our solar system that hadn’t been visited by a spacecraft.”

Pluto is now officially designated as a dwarf planet. The Postal Service is issuing the Pluto—Explored! Souvenir sheet as a companion to the Views of Our Planets stamp pane.

Pluto Explored. (from left): New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO; 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, 2015, at APL in Laurel, MD. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

“In 2006,” Williams continued. “NASA placed a 29-cent Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp on board the New Horizons spacecraft, which is safe to say, makes it the most widely-traveled stamp in the universe.”

The New Horizons spacecraft, launched into space on the fastest rocket ever built, traveled 3.26 billion miles at a speed exceeding 34,000 m.p.h. to reach Pluto on July 14, 2015. Placing that in perspective, it took three days for Apollo 11 to reach the moon. New Horizons passed the moon in nine hours.

The Postal Service learned of the 29-cent stamp’s journey aboard New Horizons on the eve of last July’s flyover and quickly put plans into place to set the record straight as noted in NASA’s celebratory photo.

“Now, the Views of Our Planets and Pluto—Explored! stamps will begin their own journeys today — on letters and packages to millions of homes and businesses throughout America,” added Williams. “We trust they’ll find a home in your own collections too.”

Joining Williams in the dedication were NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Ellen Stofan; NASA Director of Planetary Science Dr. Jim Green; Oceanographer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, Norman Kuring, who created the Earth stamp image; and, New Horizons Principal Investigator, Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Alan Stern. Honored guests included Astronaut Dr. John Grunsfeld, a veteran of five space shuttle flights who logged 58 days in space, including more than 58 hours of spacewalk time, and Alice Bowman, New Horizons first female Mission Operations Manager.

“These breathtaking new images of Pluto and our planets make for an exciting day for NASA and for all who love space exploration,” said Green. “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 achievement.”  

“The 1991 stamp that showed Pluto 'not yet explored’ highlighted some important, unfinished business for NASA’s first exploration of the planets of our solar system,” said Dr. Alan Stern, principal investigator for the New Horizons mission. “I’m thrilled that 25 years later, these new stamps recognize that Pluto has indeed been explored by the New Horizons spacecraft and revealed to be a complex and fascinating world.”

Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamps.

The Pluto—Explored! Forever stamps will only be available online at this linkat or by calling 800-782-6724.

Leveraging Technology
The U.S. Postal Service is introducing four new products tailored to stamp collectors at the World Stamp Show – NY 2016:

  • The self-adhesive Classics Forever Stamps that will be dedicated Wed., June 1, will be the first water soluble First-Class Forever stamps. Desirable to collectors of stamps from delivered mail, the stamps can be removed from envelopes undamaged — simply using water.
  • World Stamp Show Souvenir Portfolio, a coffee-table book featuring each of the eight stamp issues to be released during the show will include 3-D, augmented reality. The first pane of the book includes a pane of the August 2015 World Stamp Show stamps. Collectors are encouraged to collect a new pane each day.
  • 2015 eGuide to U.S. Stamps, a fully digital version of the latest Postal Service Guide to Stamps includes all of the content in the beautifully re-designed printed edition. It features high-resolution stamp art with comprehensive search capabilities and pinch and zoom viewing options. The eGuide is available at,, and iTunes along with 1,000 other e-tailers.
  • USPS StampApp, the only official cloud-based U.S. stamp collecting app that includes an entire stamp reference library along with user-generated content for stamp collectors to upload their own stamp collection. It is available on, Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

At the World Stamp Show — NY 2016, the U.S. Postal Service will hold an official stamp dedication almost every day of the show, to introduce a total of eight new stamp subjects.

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at the Postal Store website at⁄shop or by calling 800-782-6724. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Pluto – Explored! and/or Views of Our Planets Stamps
Special Events Coordinator
380 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10199-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by July 31, 2016.

Ordering First-Day Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at⁄shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

Philatelic Products

There are nine philatelic products for the Pluto—Explored! stamp issue:

  • 586624, Framed Art, $39.95.
  • 586606, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $26.32
  • 586610, Keepsake, (2 panes w⁄Digital Color Postmark, set of 2), $7.95.
  • 586616, First-Day Cover (set of 2), $1.82.
  • 586618, First-Day Cover, Full Pane, $4.38.
  • 586619, Cancelled Full Pane, $4.38.
  • 586621, Digital Color Postmark (set of 2), $3.24.
  • 586630, Ceremony Program (random single), $6.95.
  • 586633, Panel, $17.95.

There are nine philatelic products for the View of Our Planets stamp issue:

  • 473606, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $60.16
  • 473610, Keepsake, $9.95.
  • 473616, First-Day Cover (set of 8), $7.28.
  • 473618, First-Day Cover, Full Pane, $10.02.
  • 473619, Cancelled Full Pane, $10.02.
  • 473621, Digital Color Postmark (set of 8), $12.96.
  • 473624, Framed Art, $39.95.
  • 473630, Ceremony Program (random single), $6.95.
  • 473633, Panel, $10.95.

When reproducing the stamp images for media use only, please provide the copyright sign (the “c” inside the circle) and 2016 USPS.

  • Earth – Credit line:  NASA
  • Jupiter – Credit line:  NASA, ESA, and E. Karkoschka (Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona)
  • Mars – Credit line:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
  • Mercury – Credit line:  NASA/The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Neptune – Credit line:  NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • Saturn – Credit line:  NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
  • Uranus – Credit line:  NASA, ESA, and E. Karkoschka (Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona)
  • Venus – Credit line:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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