In 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will zip past Pluto, giving us our first close-up view of this tiny world.
The team behind the space probe have a nice idea to help raise awareness of it: make a new US Post Office stamp commemorating it. My friend Dan Durda, both an accomplished astronomer and artist, created this lovely design of the stamp:
[Click to enhadesenate. Note: the word "Forever" means the stamp is always good for first class postage, and is crossed out here to prevent forgery.]
It shows the spacecraft going by Pluto and its (relatively) freakishly large moon Charon. I like how he didn't go for photorealism, but instead used an oil paint-like feel for it. The stamp is meant as a followup -- I might even say send-up -- of a US stamp issued in 1990 about Pluto that has the label "Not Yet Explored".
I like this stamp! I'd love to see it made official, too. Alan Stern, the head guy for the mission, created a petition to help that along. It takes more than just a nice stamp design to get the PO's notice; it has to have public support as well. I signed the petition, and if you want to, please do.
I'll note that I expect this to raise the specter of whether Pluto is a planet or not. I have some thoughts on that, and I'll be posting again soon on that topic.