Sunday, July 4, 2010

USA – Exploration of Mars 10.12.1997

Today is the American Independence Day. And on this day 13 years ago it all happened on the Red Planet. Mars Pathfinder, which brought spectacular images of the "Red Planet" to Earth, conducted its next mission on the surface of a U.S. postage stamp. The U.S. Postal Service issued a $3 Priority Mail stamp commemorating the historic Mars Pathfinder mission. The stamp was officially dedicated in a ceremony at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. on December 10, 1997. "As one of the most significant achievements in the history of America’s space program, it is fitting that the Pathfinder Mission be honoured on a U.S. postage stamp," said Postmaster General Marvin Runyon. "When this stamp lands in stamp collections or on Priority Mail pieces nationwide, it will be a reminder of the unmatched ingenuity that leads the world in space exploration." This stamp is believed to be the largest stamp ever issued by the United States of America.
Based on the first image received from the Mars Pathfinder after its landing on the Martian surface July 4, 1997, the stamp features the Sojourner rover resting on the Pathfinder with a panoramic view of the Ares Vallis region of Mars in the background. Informational text about the Pathfinder mission is printed on the reverse of the stamp sheet. Fifteen million stamps have been printed. "That first historic image of Pathfinder and the rover sitting safely on Mars ignited worldwide interest in our efforts to explore Mars," said JPL Director Dr. Edward C. Stone. "It is an honour for this mission to be recognized by issuance of this special U.S. postage stamp." The Mars Pathfinder stamp is the third U.S. stamp subject to incorporate hidden images to prevent counterfeiting, while adding an interesting design element. The hidden text -- Mars Pathfinder, July 4, 1997 and the letters USPS --is not visible to the naked eye but can be viewed by using a decoder lens, which is available through the Postal Service's Philatelic Fulfillment Centre in Kansas City, MO. Since its Independence Day landing, Pathfinder has returned more than 2.6 billion bits of information, including more than 16,500 images, as well as chemical analyses of rocks and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. After operating on the surface of Mars three times longer than expected, the mission began winding down as daily communications with the lander and rover were officially halted.
Thank you Hemant for this beauty of a miniature sheet.

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