SCIENCE
12/31/2015 08:06 pm ET

Outer Space Is Coming To Postage Stamps Near You

Pluto, the moon and Star Trek will be featured in 2016 stamp collections.

Space buffs will have a lot to look forward to when it's time to send snail mail in 2016.

The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a number of postage stamps for the new year that include not only planets in our solar system and the moon, but also tributes to Pluto and NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which made its closest approach to the dwarf planet in July.

"U.S. Postal stamps express the enthusiasm and personality of senders to favorite themes in our society," said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. "From Mercury to Neptune, Pluto and Star Trek, it’s exciting to see that planetary science and space exploration are being celebrated in these new 2016 stamps."

Below, feast your eyes on 2016's space-themed stamps. 

  • Pluto -- Explored!
    In 2006, NASA placed a 29-cent 1991 "Pluto: Not Yet Explored" stamp in the New Horizons spacecraft. In 2015 the spacecraft ca
    USPS/Antonio Alcala © 2016 USPS
    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. 

    “The New Horizons project is proud to have such an important honor from the U.S. Postal Service,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons lead scientist from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Since the early 1990s the old, ‘Pluto Not Yet 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.” 

    The souvenir sheet of four stamps contains two new stamps appearing twice. The first stamp shows an artists’ rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft and the second shows the spacecraft’s image of Pluto taken near its closest approach.
  • Views of Our Planets
    With this pane of 16 Forever stamps, the Postal Service <a href="http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2015/pr15_069.h
    USPS/Antonio Alcala © 2016 USPS
    With this pane of 16 Forever stamps, the Postal Service showcases some of the more visually compelling full-disk images of the planets obtained during this era.

    Eight new colorful Forever stamps, each shown twice, feature Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Some show the planets’ “true color” -- what we might see if traveling through space. Others use colors to represent and visualize certain features of a planet based in imaging data. Still others use the near-infrared spectrum to show things that cannot be seen by the human eye.
  • The Moon
    Taken as the full moon rises, the image <a href="http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2015/pr15_069.htm">captures the
    USPS/Greg Breeding under the art direction of William Gicker © 2016 USPS
    Taken as the full moon rises, the image captures the brilliant surface of Earth’s only natural satellite.

    A full moon occurs approximately every 29.5 days when the moon is opposite the sun, with the Earth between the two. Since the rotation and orbit periods of the moon are the same, the same part of the moon is always seen from Earth.
  • Star Trek
    Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the television premiere, the new "Star Trek" Forever stamps <a href="http://about.usps.co
    USPS/Heads of State under the art direction of Antonio Alcala © 2016 USPS
    Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the television premiere, the new "Star Trek" Forever stamps showcase four digital illustrations inspired by classic elements of the television program: the Starship Enterprise inside the outline of a Starfleet insignia against a gold background; he silhouette of a crewman in a transporter against a red background; the silhouette of the Enterprise from above, against a green background; and the Enterprise inside the outline of the Vulcan salute against a blue background.

    The words “SPACE … THE FINAL FRONTIER,” from Captain Kirk’s famous voice-over, appear beneath the stamps against a background of stars.

 

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